Middle class kinship networks in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

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Middle class kinship networks in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil the functions of the urban parentela
Miller, Charlotte Ingrid, 1944-
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xiii, 233 leaves : ill. ; 28cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Child psychology ( jstor )
Children ( jstor )
Daughters ( jstor )
Fathers ( jstor )
Husbands ( jstor )
Kinship ( jstor )
Marriage ( jstor )
Middle class ( jstor )
Mothers ( jstor )
Parents ( jstor )
Anthropology thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF ( lcsh )
Family -- Brazil -- Belo Horizonte ( lcsh )
Kinship -- Brazil -- Belo Horizonte ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: leaves 223-231.
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Also available on World Wide Web
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General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Charlotte Ingrid Miller.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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3 1262 08666 403 3

Copyri ht
Charlott9 I. 7
Charlotte I. Miller

I am indebted to the institutions and individuals who

contributed so much to my training as an anthropologist

during my years of graduate study and the writing of this

dissertation. First, I must mention the Center for Latin

American Studies of the University of Florida and its

director, Dr. William Carter, and administrative assistant,

Mrs. Vivian lnolan, without whose help and dependability

this dissertation .\.ould never have been written. I would

also like to credit the United States Office of Education

under whose auspices I received IDEA Title VI grants which

prepared me for my research and sponsored my field work.

I would also like to mention that Senator Law-ton Chiles

was instrumental in insisting on the release of funding

for IIDEA. grants which had been withheld for the academic

year 1973-1974.

I am indebted to Dr. Charles Wagley for his continual

guidance and assistance, along v.ith the other members of

my committee, Drs. Maxine Margolis, Lyle McAlister,

Alexander Moore and Theron Nunez, who have read the manu-

script and offered many nelpful cor-iments and criticisms.

I would especially like to acknowledge that Dr. Margolis

gave me much inspiration to become an anthropologist and

has offered much encouragement and constructive criticism

throughout my studies. I would also like to thank the

professors of Portuguese language and literature with whom


I have studied, Dr- William Daivis, Alfred Hower, David Laws

and RicharJ Preto--IRods, fo'r their help in improving my,

ability to use thiA langu'-a in ny field work. To my

colleagues at Texas Christ-ian University, especially Dr.

Larry Adams, I offer my thanks, for their onecirs support.

While I .was in Brazil, many individuals were helpful

to me in carrying c.;t yr: research plans. Luiz C'arios Santos

lieves was invaluable in helping me with research on the

Brazilian Civil Code. Monica Kra ssa ,'as of great assistance

vrith typing arnd filing field notes, transcribing taces and

translating some materials. Eliana Ahouai was an excellent:

teacher of Pcrtuzuese continuing where' my professors had

left off. Jose Santiago graciously1 allo'.ed the use of

facilities of the Instituto Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos

in Belo Hrizcrte. Richard Virden, Sally Opstein and

Eathleen Sc -loe:der also were extremely helpful in offering

the use cf the USIS. Jefferson Froes provided useful intro-

ductions to administrato-rs of secoindary sch::,ols in i-Belo

Horizonte. In addiitio.n, the professors in the Department

of Political Scire.ce at the Federal University of MIinas

Gerais offered mrany personal and professional courcesies

which made m;y stay pleasant and fruitful. Most important,

of course, '..ras the openness and -gen erosit y of my informants,

who=e identities will remain hidden. Nameils of individuals,

families and neighborhoods in this work are fictitious,

and sometimes materials presented are composites of indi-

vidualsn and families in order to conceal identities.

I can only list here the many friends and acquaintances

whoa freely and graciousl'y gae oft heir ti,.e and. advice to

assist me in grateful acknowledCgement of the n.u-Lerous ways

they helped: Clem Beold, Robert Dori:, Stephen Dudasik,

Irmtraud Feigs, Millicen-t Fleming-Moran, William Goodwin,

Sara Juengst, Emilio Moran, Robert O'Connor, S,.n=, tuddard

and Robert VWerge. I especially ackno-.-ledge the assistance

and ex-pertise of Anne P. uDudasik in programming the question-

naire data and for her help in interpret ing the results of

that program. Daniel Juengst was invaluable in reviewing

the manuscript and off ring man:. suggestion-s and encouraging

,ord.s during the last stages of r-iting. The map in Chapter

II and the Figures in Chapters IV and V wre prepared by

Arnold LoDuca. I also thank rn. typists, Larry il. Bowers

and Judy Johnson. To these ad Li 11 those wihorm I cannot

mention here, I offer my thanks and acknowledgement that

this stu. v, would not have been done without them.








Units of Study 4
Theoretical Orientation 7
Review; of Literature 12


Met hods 21
Geneological Elicitation 21
Informal Intervie.wing 23
Participant Observation 23
Life History Method 24
Quest ionnaires 25
The Set ting- 27
The Middle Ciss. Life Styles and Values 34


The Orienting Family: A Definition 3
The DeveloFpmental C-cle: The Chil,'s View 41
The Concept, of Family .3
The Concept of Famllia 4L
Use of Familia by Informants L5
Individual Identity 47
Individ-ial Ide.ntit" and Se:x Role -S
Dif rent nation
Individual Identity and Occup.ations 52
Individual Ide- it :, and the Family A4
Marriage o
The Marriage Ritual 56
Sex Roles in Marriage c 3
Sexuality in Marriage 71
Ps,-chic Interdepenience of the Conjugal 7"
Use of Surnames b- Married Women 77
Post Marital Residence SO
Annulment, Divorce, Desquite 81O
A rnu ;nent 8o0
Legal Separation ,

Parenthood and Child Care
The Need for Children and the Conse-
quences of Childlessness
Ideal and Actual Sibling Group Size
Attitudes toward Children
The Legal Parent-Child Relationship
Rights and Duties
Parent-Daughter Interactions
Parent-Son Interactions
Parenthood and Child Care: Summary
Inter-Sibling Relationships



Proximity and Its Benefits
The Core Residential Unit
The Widow,-Spinster E:tended Residential Unit
The Married Child E:-:tended Residential Unit
The Collateral Child Extended Residential Unit
The Grandchild Extended Residential Unit
Truncated Residential Units
Patterns of Residential Clustering
Apartment Clusters
House Clusters
Houses in the Same leieihborhood



The Nature of Parentelas
Network Size
Parentela Meetings
Ilet w rk Co rmmunicat ions
Tracing Ancestry and Establishing Kin Ties
Ieed for Mutual Aid in Kinship 1Tetworks
Types of Aid and Contact Among Kin
Employment referral
Eo rro', ing
Psychological therapy
Accounting advice
Sewing, crochet and embroidery
Medical advice
Engineering consulting
Other services
Child Care
Hou. sing
Ritual Events
Support Payments, Gifts, and Inheritances





- 151


Support payments 174
Gifts 175
Inheritance 175
Aid with Schooling 176
Joint Economic Activities 177
Visiting and Telephoning 177
Crisis Aid 178
Collateral Intermarriage 182
Extending Network Ties 185
Compadria 185
[Ion-Kinship Extensions 187
Conclusions 187


Kinship Homenclature 194
Consanguineous Einship: Reference 195
Consanguineous Kinship: Address 196
Affinal Kinship: Reference 199
Affinal Kinship: Address 201
The Functions of Reference and Address
Terms 202
Ilaming 204
First Names 204
Surnames 206
Use of Second Person Pronouns 208
Conclusions 209





Table 1

Table II

Table III

Table IV



Table VII







Table XII

Table XIII

Table XIV

Tabl> XV
Table XVI

Table XVII
Table 1I :- I I

Table XIX

Table XX


Urban Population Grovth, Minas Gerais
1950-197 0

What is the importance of the Familia in
your life?

Cross-Tabulation for Male Respondents of
Influence of Mother Working on Seeking
Employment Aid from Relatives

Cross-Tabulation for Female Respondents of
Influence of Mother Workin, on Seeking
Employment Aid from Relatives

Should Divorce Be Legalized?

Attitudes on the Legalization of Divorce
According to Religious Preference

Comparison of Parents, Own and Ideal Mean
Sibling Group Size

Att. itudes about the Merit of Family Aid

Frequenc,- of Extended Kin Contact

Source of Help in Job Hunting

Correlation of Attitudes on Merit of
Family Aid W'ith W illingness to Seek Famil-
Aid in Job Hunting

Yearly Attendance at Relatives' Birthday

Comparison of :: of Respondents Ever
Attending Various Rituals (ilc t heir own)

Consanguineous Einship Terrms of Reference

Consanguineous Kinship Ternms of Address

Address Terminology for Tio and Tia

Affinal Kinship Terms of Reference

Affinal Kinship Terms of Address

Surname Selection

Pronoun Usage










Q ''


Figure 1 Map of Study Area 18

Figure 2 Neighborhood Gutierrez 135
Costa Family Apartment Cluster

Figure 3 Neighborhood Santo Antonio 137
Silva Family Apartment Cluster

Figure 4 Neighborhood Floresta 139
Branco Family Housing Cluster

Figure 5 Neighborhood Floresta 141

Figure 6 A Request for Money 154


CEDMG Conselo Estadual do Desenvolvimento de Minas Cerais

GTEH Guia Telefonica de Belo Horizonte (See Belo

IEGE Instituto Brasileiro dJe'Geografia e Estatistica

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy



Charlotte Ingrid Miller

March, 1976

Chairman: Charles Wagley
Major Department: Anthropology

This study examines the impact of urbanization and

industrialization on middle class family and kinship

patterns in Belo Horizc.nte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. It

calls into doubt the universality of Parson's and Goode's

findings that urbanization and industrialization tend to

have an isolating effect on the family and cause extended

kinship ties to atrophy. The methodology used to collect

the data on middle class family life in this metropolis

include participant-observation, genealogical elicitation,

informal interviewing and life history collection from a

number of personal kinship networks of extended kin. These

data are supplemented by questionnaire survey information,

administered to a population of middle class students in

secondary schools. The units selected for study are

personal kinship networks, rather than territorially bounded

units such as communities and neighborhoods, in the belief

that urban residents are less bounded in their behavior by

territorial units than are residents of other types of

settlements. The study- discusses the concepts of family,

familiar, parentela and residential unit as a part of the

analysis of urban kinship behavior. The study finds that

residential units are often made up of three generations and

that a high degree of interaction for the purposes of mutual

aid is maintained with a group of kin beyond a couple and

their minor children, including the parents of both husband

and wife, and the siblings (and their spouses) of both

husband and wife. In addition, the study finds that a

larger group of extended kin (or parentela) serves as the

action set of the network for less frequent interaction,

fulfilling recreational needs, information-sharing needs

and bureaucratic facilitation needs. The study, therefore,

contends that the maintenance or evolution of' extended

kinship ties is one means of adaptation in urban, stratified

societies, such as Brazil. It suggests that such an

adaptation may be more strongly developed in those social

strata which have property, education and access to power

and other resources, such as the middle class of Eelo

Horizcnte, rather than lower classes.




The primary goals of the early anthropologists in the

United States were to study and preserve the records of

North American Irdians. In attempting to preserve what they

perceived as the dying remnants of the world's primitive

cultures, they expanded into foreign studies of simple so-

cieties and rural communities, avoiding the complexities

of urban settings. The orientation of anthropologists has

continued to change from that of cataloging exotic, primitive

and foreign cultures to that of understanding change as

ongoing adaptation, not as the destructive march of mono-

lithic industrial homogeneity. As a result, anthropologists

have turned to the study of particular segments of societies

in urban settings in order to offer qualitative evidence of

the nature of the urban life styles which are becoming more

significant as the world becomes more urbanized. The first

urban studies done by anthropologists focused on the urban

poor who are a numerous and therefore important class in

many industrialize rp and urbanizing societies. These anthro-

pologists transferred the "community" as a unit of study from

their primitive and rural studies into these new. urban settings

and often interpreted the behavior of rural-urban migrants

as transplanted rural culture, temporarily surviving in the

urban environment, but destined to succumb to urban pressures

as time went on (Matrs Mar 1961; Pearse 1961; Bonilla 1970;

Lewis 1952).- The holistic study of these migrant communities

led these anthropologists to remark on how tenacious were

the bonds of kinship in urban settings. Thus, the first

studies of urban kinship patterns by anthropologists were

part of multifaceted ccmrrunity studies of rural-urban mi-

grants. Some studies have acknowledged the adaptive capacity

of rural-urban migrants, but nevertheless have been limited

to the study of poor rural-urban migrants (Mangin 1970;

Leeds 1967; Safa 1974).

Urban anthropologists have not found it difficult to

study the family patterns of the urban poor. Since poor

families are relatively powerless and find themselves in

societies which do not provide them opportunities to better

themselves, the researchers' interest in them and the pay-

ments sometimes made offer significant psychological and

economic motivation to members of this group to participate

in projects which impinge on their privacy and offer little

hope for any significant change in their conditions. Liebow

has pointed out another criticism of studies of the poor:

an over-emphasis on women and children which results from

their accessibility and dependency on governmental bureau-

cracies (1967:c-8). This criticism holds true for studies

of the urban poor in the United States where bureaucracies

are relatively well developed.

On the other hand, anthropological studies of middle

and upper class urban kinship s.roups are in short supply and

are badly needed, despite the fact that these classes are

less susceptible to the inducements of researchers to parti-

cipate in such studies. In Latin America and other parts of

the Third VWorld, the analysis of urban problems and conditions

requires more information on these strata, precisely because

of the asymmetrical distribution of power in these societies

and the dispro-ortionate influence these small classes have

on the rest of the society (Willems 1965:75). 'Whiteford

pointed out tLe need to study cities which had emerging

middle classes to better understand the effects of industriali-

zation on social structure (196":254-25'). Furthermore,

kinship institutions in Latin America, especially among these

classes, have traditionally been strikingly important and

enduring despite social changes in other areas. It is useful,

to be sure, to look at the "culture of poverty" or the

"culture of affluence" in order to record and interpret the

kinship and fa=cily behavior of different classes from their

own ir.ternal perspective, but, as Leeds points out, it is

also useful to the understanding of urban phenomena to look

at how these class cultures interact and influence one

another and are influenced by the urban setting and social

and economic structures in society (Leeds 196S::31). This

study, then, is an attempt to view, Brazilian middle class

family patterns from the point of view of middle class

Brazilians, while not neglecting the impact of their behavior

and attitudes on the other strata in Erazilian society.

Units of Study

In addition to the over-emphasis on the urban poor,

studied in isolation, another issue of concern arising from

the literature or. urban anthropology has beer the choice of

a unit for stuJiy. Urban anthropologists have struggled with

attempts to define their units of study, to avoid losing the

essentially anthropological, humanistic, informant-centered

approach of the participant-cbserver method. The traditional

concepts of neighborhood or any other territorially defined

unit become less relevant in the urban setting. Even the

concept of social structure as a relatively fixed set of

relationships between behavior and social institutions has

lost much heuristic value when used in the analysis of large

urban or metropolitan living patterns. Urban and metropoli-

tan residents often follow patterns cf interaction and

corrmunnication with marny possibly unrelated persons, in

various places, in groups or singly, frequently outside of

the urbanites place of residence.k Even the study of kin-

ship and family, which in many societies is the residential

unit, needs to take into account this daily geographic

mobility and ease of communications. '

One of the more fruitful approaches now being used to

overcome the biases of territorially bounded units a;'d fixed

concepts of social structure has been the study of personal

net works. This analytical scheme focuses on the relevant.

ties between people which allows for the mobilization of

individuals for specific purposes unier specific condition'_-

S(Whitten and WoLfe 197.: 720). All networks are centered on

a particular individual as reference point.' A personal

network, therefore, is the chain of persons (Alters) with

whom any given referent individual (Ego) has actual or

potential direct interaction as well as lateral links between

these people, especially when they're acting .:ith respect

to E'.o's problems and concerns.\ A personal kinship network,

then, is all of Ego's recognized or potentially recognized

kin, consanguineal, affinal or fictive (Hubbell 1973:2).

By recognition, I mean that Ego has taken some positive step

showing that he or she has a special relationship to the

Alter in question. By, potent i-] :ecognition, I mean that

Ego knows about the person and conceives of that person as

one with whom it would be possible to interact given the

desire, motivation and comonr interest. Ego must have enough

information about the Alter to find him or her and initiate

interaction. To clarify further, the relationship between

Ego and his or her personal network contr-asts with the rels-

tionship of an individual and his or her reference group in

that the nertw.ork's existence is defined by Ec C's use or

potential use of it (Hyman and Singer 1968)

A personal network is bounded, therefore, not by conrmu-

nity of interests, like a reference group, nor by territjr-

iality like a neighborhood or community, nor by structural

interdependence like an institution, but by known patterns

of interaction cf a given set of Alters with a given Ego

(Mayer 1966:100). The explicit bias of this view is that

individuals are not necessarily locked int: the statues and

roles assigned to them by a particular formal structure cut

are in the process of active adaptation to the changing inter-

action context i.' which they find themselves.

The congruence between the formal social structure and

the informal personal netw'.orks in many simple societies was

discovered by anthropologists studying genealogical reckoning

and other features of.kinship in those societies."` The tracing

of genealogical charts led anthropologists to the recognition

that in many of these societies a knowledge of the formal

kinship system would be a good guide to interaction patterns.,

Thus, anthropological kinship studies became associated with

the definition and delineation of self-perpetuating descent

groups, especially "corporate" ones (see Radcliffe-Brvjwn 19510:41).

The lack of congruence between the individuals' interaction

patterns with kin and relatively fixed concepts of kinship

and social structure in modern complex: societies has been

a major source of doubts which have been expressed as to the

usefulness of traditional modes of kinship analysis in such

societies. Indeed, as Talcott Parsons points out, the rela-

tively static concept cf kin groups as "firmly structured

units of the social system" does not give much insight into

family life in complex societies (1971:120). However, it

is just as unproductive to state that the equally static

concept of the isolated nuclear family made up of husband,

wife, and their children gives r-!uch more insight into such

behavior in light of the research of Litwak, Bott and others

which demonstrates the continuity of extended kin ties in

complex societies (Litwak 1960; Bott 1957). As a result of

the weakness of these fixed concepts of social structure,

anthropologists are increasingly turning to the personal

'kinship network approach to aid in the study of family and

kin ties in complex societies, especially in those societies

where kin, among certain social strata, constitute tne

majority of Alters in the total personal network of individuals.

Theoretical Orientation

In industrial societies, changes in the function, con-

tinuity, longevity, status and role of kinship groups have

been mistaken by observers for the demise of significant

kinship ties out iide of the nuclear family.' At the same

time, solidarity of kinship groups has been reported to be

a powerful and widespread phenomno on in many parts of the

industrializing world.x As a result, the relationships

among the forces which have been labeled modernization,

industrialization and uirbanization and the forms and nature

of the family have become confused. The classical socio-

cultural theories of Maine, Durkheim, Toe'nnies, LePlay,

Linton and Lowie which dictated the dependence of family

form on dichotomy models of rural vs. urban, folk vs.

national, traditional vs. modern, ascriptive vs. achieving

societies do not adequately describe the adaptation of

extended kinship groups to urban, industrial functions.

Many studies of modern, industrial, urban societies

have predicted the continual ebbinr awa,- of the functions

of extended kinship ties. Some have lamented this trend

and others have cheered it as pro ress. As indicated above,

it has been the subject of much debate as to whether these

"trends" have been verified empirically. H[evertheless, the

study of the family and kinship in'complex: societies is

important for understanding the common -lenominators of human

interaction. Kinship interaction in its various forms is

a human universal.' The socialization of infants and young

children is under the control cf parents and other closely

related kin in almost all societies, simple or complex.'

Because the family, is one of the few groups with ascribed

membership recruitment, most men and women depend on kin for

a buffer of moral, economic and emotional support in societies

which are becoming characterized by more social mobility and

growing achievement orientation. The specialization of func-

tions and divers ity of occupational choice associated with

Western capitalism and the rise of modern industrial cities

have led to the proliferation of impersonal bureaucracies,

agencies, associations and institutions. There have been as

yet none of these public or private agencies, associations

or institutions ir. an,- complex society which have been

successful in supplanting family and kinship interaction

with humane, personalized and sensitive treatment. Family

and kin interaction provides one of the few counter-

balances to the alienation created by instrumental, imper-

sonal bureaucracies in modern-, industrial, urban societies.

This study reexamines the literature on the interdepen-

dence of family form and function with the type of society

in which it is found: agrarian-traditional vs. urban-

industrial. In addition, it offers a case study of Brazilian

urban middle class family behavior as evidence in the analy-

sis of this interdependence. This study contends that much

of the apparent evidence for the demise of some family

functions in industrial society results from the failure of

some social analysts to recognize adaptive chances in family

functions. 'Family and kinship relations respond to pressure

to convert forrnal into informal systems of obtaining per-

sonalized help in societies where the coercive sanctions

against nonconformity are great and the formal structures

have developed a high degree of complexityy..,

In urban Brazil, these formal structures are less

numerous and have been less effective in competing with kin

interaction for functions which are already, performed by

voluntary associations and governmental agencies in the

United States and Western Europe. Some have argued that

the cause of this difference is urbanization prior to

industrialization: the preindustrial nature of the city

in developing societies (Coode 1963, 1974). In the past,

Brazil has been identified as a largely traditional,

agrarian, pre-industrial society with a relatively stable

two-class system of "haves" and "have-nots." However,

recent observers have come to the conclusion that Brazil

is today in the process of becoming a modern, industrial,

urban society, with the accompanying growth of an important

middle sector (Rios 1964:39). Indeed, the major cities

already show the increased complexity and diversity brought

about by increases in real income, growing ease of communi-

cations and transportation, specialization of labor (with

large growth in industrial, white collar, bureaucratic

and commercial sectors) ana social secularization. However,

the bureaucracies, agencies, institutions and associations

in urban Brazil have not developed along with this indus-

trialization, and they tend to play a more limited role in

influencing and controlling individual attitudes and behavior

than the kinship networks. 'In fact, familial networks,

as this study demonstrates, are taking on new urban functions

among the members of middle and upper classes.

This study investigates s several kinship groups in Belo

Horizonte, the third largest city in Brazil, an industriali-

zing, administrative metropolis. It provides data concerning

the adaptation of such groups to the urban setting by becoming

self-recognizing, functional mutual aid associations. The

theoretical orientation of this stu.y asserts that responses

to social change are as diverse and heterogeneous as the

cultures which are the objects of that change, but they

parallel one another in terms of the similarity of the

ecological and economic pressures brought to bear upon those

cultures. The premise of this study. is that social evolution

does not follow a unilineal progression, but it is apt to

take a wide variety of forms. These forms will not always

fit the western stereotypes of modernity, but rather they

will always be an efficient adaptation to situational exi-


The study of the urban middle class kinship system in

Brazil is well served by the personal network concept because

of the particular linguistic and cultural characteristics of

that system as well as the appropriateness of this approach

to urban contexts generally,'. In Brazilian Portuguese, the
word for family, familiar, is ambiguous, usually referring to

a person's own sibling group, the childhood orienting family,

especially in contrast with that of the spouse, the whole

extended family, some part of the extended family, or a woman's

husband and chiild'ren.\ Males never referred to wives and
children as their familiar preferring to call them "woman

and children." Most Brazilians reserve the use of the term

familiar for the larger kindred, although the ambiguity remains.

The most common way of referring to the household unit was

"those at home" or pessoal em casa or "we, there at home,"

nos, 1 em casa. A specific term, parentela, refers to ?11

the relatives, clarifying the term familiar further. However,

parentela is a relatively little used term in IMinas Gerais,

and has been adopted by social scientists a a term for the

concept "kindred" (Wagley 1971:168). I use this term much

as the Brazilians use it: for an Ego-focused set of living

kin which may, but does not always, include affinal and fictive

*See below, poasLl for a more thorough discussion of the
concept of fanmiia.

kin as well as consanguineal kin. It does not include any

consanguineal kin who might exist, but only those who are

known, who have established a relationship with Ego or who

have had an active relationship established for them. In

other words, the parentela is a network of people with whom

Ego has actual or potential interaction.

From this analysis, it is clear that Brazilian Portu-

guese has within it categories which distinguish the very

phenomenon which this study argues is of central importance

to the understanding and e:x:planation of the nature of the

urban family and kinship system in modern, industrial

societies: the kinship network. This study argues that the

predicted continual ebbing away of the functions of extended

kinship ties is partly the result of static and overly

formal analytical procedures which are not suited to the

nature of modern complex social phenomena.

Review of Literature

Although most social scientists agree that structures

inherent in the urban division of lacor are destructive of

the traditional functions of kin networks, increasing evi-

dence is accumulating which indicates that in many modern

urban situations, kinship still plays an important role

in structuring social interactions. Elizabeth Bott in her

seminal work, Family and Social fietwork (1957), found that

the degree of "connectedness" in urban families varied with

differences in the degree of "segregation of conjugal roles."

Sne suggested that persons who" at the time of marriage had

ciose-knit nettiork_ with kin tended to continue them during

marriage, not necessarily looking to the spouse for all emo-

tiroal, social and economic needs (1957:216-219). Young

and Willmott (1957) discovered extensive kinship networks

in East London, despite marked and long-term urbanization

there. Similarly, Garigue (1956) studied urban French Cana-

dians and found a high degree of kin interaction among them.

Sussman and Eurchinal (1962) have asserted that the indepen-

dent nuclear family is a normative concept of American cul-

ture which tends to obscure an understanding of the extended

family as a functioning social system. Stack has discovered

highly developed kin interdependence among urban American

blacks (1972. -:'Levi-Strauss (1969) has questioned the

nuclear family's traditional position as the elementary unit

of kinship and has insisted that relations among affines

are extremely important in the structure of every society,

complex and primitive. It is evident from this rapid and

superficial review of the literature that the limitations

of the concept of the nuclear family have become apparent.

However, it is also evident that studies of kinship func-

tions in complex societies are rare.

American scholars nave looked in vain for the trans-

formation of extended, traditional family structure into

the nuclear family as a sign of modernization in Latin
America. According to (1965), extended family

J links continue to be extremely important in Latir Ar>-rican

entrepreneurial groups. He reports that managers of business

firms are often selected based onD family ties rather than

specialized training, since family members are considered

to be reliable, dependable and lol Some writers see

this form of nepotisms" as a backward characteristic of

"underdeveloped" societies possession elite-dominated two-

class systems.

Much of the literature on Latin America has been limited

to a discussion of the composition of the domestic group,

marital patterns and the functions of the domestic units,

data largely available from census materials. Although

Smith states that the kinship group is the most important

institution of Brazilian society, he devotes only a few

short paragraphs to the function of such groups (1963:I79- 1S1)

There is no doubt that the family has been the domi-

nant institution in Brazil (Freyre 1956). Economists are

at a loss to explain why the growth of large industries and

corporate o-wnership in major metropolitan centers like Sao

Paulo have not lessened the importance of family ties in

corporate decision-making. Bresser Pereira (1962) reports

that few outsiders are brought into Brazilian family corpora-

tions, even to introduce technical skills. Emilio Willems

(1953) points out that such an institution as the stock

market has failed to function like its American counterpart

because the most important joint stock companies are owned

by kin groups which handle transfers as a purely domestic

matter. Berlinck (1969) contends that Sao Paulo is not

really a "modern industrial city" but is rather a

"metropolitan-transitional city" having traditional struc-

tural elements behind a modern facade. He feels that this

accounts for the persistence of close family networks.

Since the behavior of factory owners and urban proletariat

closely parallel that of plantation owners and rural prole-

tariat, he contends that the rural structure has been taken

over, largely intact, into the urban setting. In support

of this contention, he points out that frequently the same

families which own factories today used to own or still own

large rural holdings. In essence, he explains persistence

as cultural lag which will eventually be changed by new

forces not yet powerful enough to irradicate traditional

structures. Leeds, on the other hand, has suggested (1967)

that rural-urban migrants do not merely import exclusively

rural traits into the cities, forming rural enclaves in

squatter settlements. He sees the urban behavior patterns

of migrants as new adaptations to new surroundings, with

parallels arising where conditions are somewhat similar to

rural environments. Azevedo has compared marriage and

divorce patterns across social classes contrasting rural

and urban settings, but has gone little beyond census

statistics and broad nationwide generalizations (1962).

Pearse has noticed that migration patterns of Rio de

Janeiro's favelados (residents of semi-permanent urban

squatter settlements) generall- depend on kin links on

both ends of the migratory chain who provide temporary

lodging, financial assistance and employment contacts for

the new arrival. The study of kinship funcd i:,i-., among rural-

urban migrants and t-he urban poor has already received much

greater attention than that of urban upper and middle classes.

SWagley (1964) has reported that the persistence of

the parentela in the urban upper class of Brazil is of such

an extent that whole families occupl prrd o n all of th-

units in rnew condominiums. Other indicatorK of the importance

and, intimacy uf such groups are the frequent reports of

regular meetings among members of such groups, but the

literature indicates little systematic research rt obtain

data on how these kinship networks function! Wagley's study,

for example, is based on the .workD of other field researchers

taken from their community stu.aies and in addition ?onrains

insights from his ow n field experiences in Brazil. Recent

studies (Hansen, Schneider, and Schneider 1072, an.-I Hansen

and Hiansen 1973) have dealt with the Brazilian middle class

and elites in Sao Paulo, but have emphasized stratifica-

tional criteria, modernization and mobility rather than

kinship, although the kinship route tc. Lbeau.ucratic facili-

tation is specifically mentioned and supported with data

in Hansen and Hansen.

From this review of the literature, it is clear that

there is much to be studied ana reported on the nature and

function of middle class urban kinship networks in Brazil,

both for the purpose of understanding middle class Brazilian

culture more fully and in getting a broader perspective on

the nature of the impact of modernization, u'rbarizatrio r ar'd


industrialization on kinship patterns. Furthermore, this

study demonstrates the utility of network analysis in urban

anthropology and expands our understanding of urban contexts

as arenas for anthropological research.



0 100 200
0 50 100 mi.





Map of Study Area




The previous chapter has described the theoretical

perspective and overall approach of this study: the analysis

of the roles and functions of kinship gr-ip.fs in urban Brazil

through the network concept. This chapter will describe and

defend the methods used to' collect the data as well as the

particular urban setting in which the study undertaken.

The data to be reported and analyzed were collected

during thirteen months of field research in Belo Horizonte,

Minas Gerais, Brazil (see Figure 1). During my research in

Pelo Horizcnte, I studied six large kinship networks or

parentelas for which the focal Egcss were selected from the

middle and upper middle classes. I chose six Egos who were

not relatives, three l.omen and three men, and developed

kinship ret.,orks for them through participant observation,

informal interviewing ard the collection of life histories

and genealo ies. Because of the openness of the methodology

of participant observation, I studied not only those six

individuals, but also many other members of their parentelas

through direct meetings as well as by reputation.

The data in this study were ccliected by multiple methods:

(1) genealogical elicitation, (2) informal interviewing,

(3) participant observation, (1) life history collection

and (5) questionnaire interviewing. The six Egos for the

parentela studies were selected from professional classes

because these occupations are reported by other scholars

studying Brazil to be a very characteristic category within

the Brazilian middle sector (Wagley 1971:112). Furthermore,

professionals are occupationally characteristic of urban

heterogeneity not only in Brazil but also in Western indus-

trial societies. This study is not an attempt, however,

to describe any middle class Brazilians other than those with

whom I was in direct, immediate association. The applica-

bility of this descriptive and interpretive material to

middle class Brazilians in general is only suggestive here,

and further study is, of course, necessary. I do not intend

to suggest, though, that the data presented and analyzed here

relate to unique and distinctive relationships, conditions

and persons. I made an effort to select informants, at least

initially, who were representative of a certain occupational

class, but such a sample could not be presumed to be represen-

tative, especially since the selection process was partly

influenced by accidental circLunstarlces and partly by the

fact that I was a foreigner in Brazil. I was concerned

enough about the representativeness of my information that

I decided to conduct a sample survey of a larger group of

middle class Brazilians, residents of Belo Horizonte. I

constructed a questionnaire, after living in Brazil for six

months, which I then administered to nearly four hundred

coleio (high school) students covering indicators of social

class and attitudes and behavior relating to kinship inter-

action. However, the purpose of this survey was only to

check the responses of the in-depth parentela studies and

is not intended in itself to be an adequate way to find out

about Brazilian kinship patterns.

I have assumed that the informants had little reason

to falsify or withhold information from me. All of the

informants were told that the information gathered was to

be used for a study of the "traditional mineiro family"

(a familia traditional mineira), a phrase which is corrmon

in the state of Minas Gerais, sometimes shortened to the

initials "F.T.M." Most were flattered to be included in the

study and enjoyed talking about their families with me,

although some felt that it was trivial to the "real concerns

of life." The in-depth studies were limited to people

twenty-four and over, while the high school students ranged

in age between fifteen and nineteen, although a few older

students were enrolled in evening classes. The difference

in age seems to account for some of the differences in

attitudes in responses. In terms of behavior questions, I

found many parallels between the two groups.


1. Genealogical Elicitation. The first method employed

after the selection of the principal informants for the

in-depth studies was Conklin's genealogical method (1969),

coupled with a componential analysis of kinship terms

(Goodenough 1970), in order to determine the native categories

of relationship and to understand the distinctive features of

kinship discrimination. The genealogies were then used to

elicit information from the informants concerning the actual

interactions among the members of the extended family or

parentela to determine the economic, social and political

functions of the network, such as child-care, shopping, labor

exchange, professional advice or care, monetary and material

gifts, loans of money or equipment, political affiliation

and factors, procurement of employment, facilitation of

bureaucratic processes, visits, attendance at parties or

other ritual events, service as godparents, exchange of

letters and telephone calls, the use of telephones and auto-

mobiles, joint economic ventures and cooperative housing

arrangements. I asked such questions as "When was the last

time you saw (the person's name)?" (Quando foi a ultima vez

que voc@ (o senhor) viu ?) I used the formal

second person pronoun, o sehnor, a senhora, with informants

in their forties, fifties and sixties which they seemed to

find flattering and which allowed me to enter into the child

role to their parent role. The result of this adoption of

roles was that my older informants became my tutors, in a

somewhat condescending fashion, and never exhibited any feeling

that I was threatening to them or seemed to try to hide any-

thing from me. I attempted to ask questions which were simple

and almost naive to encourage my informants to teach me what

I needed to know. The relationship I established with the

younger informants was somewhat different. In these cases,

I tried to act the role of younger sister and confidant,

asking about the members of the parentela with genuine but

not scholarly interest. Often the conversations took on a

gossip: tone. I did experience some problems switching from

role to role. On occasion, for instance, I would try a

question on ar. older informant which would sourd presumptuous

from a child and I would set raised eyebrows or uncomfortable

body movements with evasive answers.

2. Informal interviewi'.nir. Essentially the genealogical

method, as described above, involved intensive informal inter-

viewing. I also interviewed persons for whom I did not collect

genealogies, especially members of the parentelas which I

was studying in-depth. In these cases, I tried to start a

conversation by talking about the events and people at hand,

without, of course, revealing that I had been told many things

about the members of the kinship group. I usually tried to

verify what I had been told through cas-,al conversations.

Sometimes this strategy worked, although often it was diffi-

cult to get beyond small talk. I attempted to keep all

conversations friendly by agreeing x.ith my, informants and

by avoiding the interjection of obviously biased statements

of my own, allowing the respondent latitude in determining

the conversational topic.

3. Participant-Observation. Of course, the more I

learned about the expectations 'f the people with whom I

was dealing the more I becar.e accepted. as a participant in

events and daily life. I lived with my husband and stepson

in an apartment where we continued some American behavior

patterns but we also adopted many Brazilian patterns.

However, my participant-observation was a very mobile style

of life. My six Egos lived and worked in various parts of

the city and I drove from one area to another on a daily

basis. One of my informants lived in the same building I

did, but all of the others lived in different neighborhoods

(bairros). I tried to record public. events which were part

of the lives of the parentela members as well as becoming

intimately involved with the familial networks. I attended

school functions, family birthday parties, weddings, recep-

tions, funerals, wakes, first communions, christenings,

inaugurations of public buildings, cocktail parties and

dinners in homes and restaurants. I visited my informants

in their homes and at work, at their relatives' homes and

at their social clubs. I went with them on visits to rela-

tives living in the country. I accompanied them to the

beauty parlor, on shopping trips, and ro the movies. I

invited them to my home for visits. They gave me a lot of

advice on how to live a good life and how to improve my

speech. They helped me in many .ays to discover how to

cope with what w.-as at first a frustrating and confusing

pattern of urban life. I fo.-ind tl'at I needed these

parentelas in order to adapt to life in Belo Horizonte.

4. Life History Method. Denzin. among others, has

suggested the use of the life history me-hod for eliciting

and examining the experiences and definitions of an indivi-

dual or group and for analyzing social roles (1970).

Redfield also advocated this type of too] for the analysis

of social change, especially by the comparison of differences

in generations (1960). In my study, I found the use of the

life history method helpful in these ways, especially in

giving a diachronic perspective on the information gathered

first hand. The six Egos of the parentelas were asked,

toward the end of my field work, after considerable rapport

had been established, to give their own versions of the story

of their lives. This was done in June and July of 1973 after

months of informal interviewing, genealogical elicitation

and participant-observation. The life histories were taped

with no one present besides the researcher and the informant.

The life histories were elicited by the question, "Tell me

the story of your life, however you would like to, empha-

sizing whatever you think is important." Some were shy and

kept stopping and sayingQ'Should I say more?" I would 9

encourage them to continue by asking a leading question

such as "Have 'ou found your life fulfilling?" I tried to

avoid specific content-oriented questions because I wanted

to do a content analysis of what they chose to bring up.

5. Questionnaires. A sixty-item questionnaire was cross check informants' answers concerning

certain information with a larger sample of the urban middle

class. The questionnaire covered information concerning

marital status, residence, age, sex, religion, naming pat-

tern, automobile ownership, telephone ownership, father's

occupation, source of tuition payment, self identification

of social class, monthly family income and many items about

familial behavior patterns and attitudes. The questionnaire

was administered in several types of high schools: an

inexpensive evening school (commercial course), a moderately

priced Baptist school, a moderately priced Catholic school,

two free but competitive municipal schools and a free but

highly competitive state school, a total of three private

and three public schools, listed from the least to the most

prestigious. I attempted to get a variety of types of schools

in different parts of the city in order to keep from biasing

the sample through competitive, price and ecological factors.

Since educational achievement is one of the striking charac-

teristics of differentiating the middle class, the fact that

colegio students were used as questionnaire respondents is

a good indicator that they were members of the middle class.

The sample showed the majority of the group to be middle

class, not surprising since the Brazilian school system

makes it difficult for children of lower classes to reach

high school.

The methods used in this study were weighted based on

several strategies. The kind of qualitative data needed to

answer the questions posed in the first chapter were not

accessible through quantifiable methods, but the conclusions

of the study would be less reliable unless some attempt was

made to put the findings into a broader perspective. Thus,

this is the compromise which was reached.

The Settine

The location for this study is Belo Horizonte (see

Figure 1 above), the third largest city in Brazil and

capital of the state of Minas Gerais, the second most popu-

lous state in the country with 11,645,095 inhabitants

(IBGE 1971:13-14). Minas Gerais is a part of the region

called the Eastern Highlands, characterized by hilly uplands

(Wagley 1971:47).

Up to the middle of this century, Brazil and the

Eastern Highlands could be described as having a predominantly

rural population (Smith 1972:9-10), but in the past decade,

the proportion of residents living in towns and cities has

passed the 5C0 mark (Smith 1972:682). The topographic and

geological features of the region historically impeded dense

settlement of the Eastern Highlands due to difficulties in

navigating the narrow rivers and in constructing roads through

the irregular terrain, compounded by colonial government

edicts prohibiting access and development of any transporta-

tion routes to prevent the illegal extraction~ of gold and

other valuable minerals (Poppiro 1.968:1CC-101).

Today, however, these features have played an important

part in the economic develcprient of the Eastern Highlands and

Minas Gerais particularly, and now, Minas Gerais reflects the

demographic transformation from rural to urban settlement

pattern which is characteristic of all of Brazil. In 1970,

34o of the state's population was living in towns and cities

over 10,000 population. By contrast, in 1950, only 13% of

the state's population was living in cities and towns of that

size. What is interesting for the purposes of this study is

that, in 1970, 11] of the state's population lived in Belo

Horizonte, compared with 5% in 1950.


Urban Population Growth, Minas Gerais, 1950-1970

1950 1970
Number Iu lumber <

Total population
of Minas Gerais *7,782,18 10i0 11,6&5,095 100

Population living
in cities over
10,000 95,593 13 3,906,671 34

Population ir. Belo
Horizonte '352, 72 5 1, 232, 70 11

*IEGE 1971:65, 66
**Smith 1972:595, 636

The topographic and geological features which impeded

denser settlement in colonial times have encouraged the

growth of Belo Horizonte into a m-ajor industrial metropolis.

For exan.ple, the highlands of Minas Gerais constitute an

important water shed for many" other parts of Brazil. The

headwaters of the Rio Grande and the Paranaiba (major tribu-

taries of the Parana), the Sao Francisco, the Rio Doce and

the Jequitinhonha are all found in Minas Gerais. This rich

drainage network has allowed for the impressive hydroelectric

establishments in the state and represents much potential

for electric power development (IEGE 1971:13). Minas Gerais

has the second largest network of hydroelectric power

installations in Brazil (IBGE 1971:13). In addition to the

hydraulic resources of the state, the geological resources

are also very important to the development of the indus-

trializing urban culture of Belo Horizonte. There are major

deposits of iron ore, bauxite, manganese ore and limestone,

amor.g others (CEDMG 1973:29, 36, C 5). As a result, Minas

Gerais is the state with the largest steel and cement produc-

tion in Brazil and is developing important industries related

to the production of other minerals and metals. Most of

this industrial activity has centered in the region near

Belo Horizonte and has resulted in a tremendous population

boom for the city and a growth of its influence over a

widening hinterland.

The relatively rapid metropolitanization of Eelo Hori-

zonte has its counterparts in other regions of Brazil

(Smith 1972:690-692). Up until the 1950's, only two metro-

polises of any national significance existed in Brazil, Seo

Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In both cases, however, metropoli-

tanization occurred over a longer time period. At present,

Brazil is in the process of extending its .metropolitan net-

work over much of the traditionally settled portion of the

country and with the creation of the new federal capital cf

Brasilia in the interior, the web of urban relations now

covers a larger territory than would have occurred through

"natural" urban development.

Actually, Belo Horizcnte represents a model of the

Brazilian penchant for creating capital cities. The seat of

the state government of Minas Gerais until the last decade

of the nineteenth century was Ouro Preto, the colonial mining

center, which was unsuited to further growth because it is

hemmed in by rugged mountains. By administrative act, the

new state capital of Belo Horizcnte was constructed on a

site more propitious to future expansion. It was conceived

solely in terms of its functions as an administrative center

and was designed for a population of 250,000 residents.

The subsequent growth of Belo Horizonte to metropolitan

status, occurring in a little more than seventy years, could

hardly have been forecast from the early censuses: 1900-

13,472; 1920 55,563. But by 1950, the population had

already passed the planned size by more than 100,000

inhabitants (352,724). Since then, Belo Horizonte's popu-

lation growth has been of a geometric order: 1960 693,328;

1970 1,232,70 (Smith 1972:686). The last preliminary

census, in 1973, showed population of close to a million and

a half.

This population explosion expressed in the number of

people resident in the city has not only radically altered

the demographics of Belo Horizonte, but in less than a

generation, has transformed the ecological and social struc-

ture of this one time interior provincial capital. The

ecological pattern of the city, until recently, had conformed

to the traditional Latin American model with the dominant

central plaza containing the administrative offices of the

state government. Neither the increased commercial and

financial functions that the capital performed for a growing

hinterland during the first third or this century nor the

incipient industrialization begun during the Second World

War appreciably altered the physical structure of the city.

Since the World War II period, however, and continuing

at an accelerating pace, both Federal and State development

programs (notably in transportation, communications and

industrial expansion), resulting in large scale migration

from the surrounding rural zones, is transforming the eco-

logical pattern into one more similar to the urban and

metropolitan characteristics of cities and metropolises in

urban industrial societies in Europe and North America.

Together with demographic and ecological structural

changes, -increased heterogeneity in the composition of the

population and a more differentiated class and occupational

structure has modified the traditional two class structure.

A large percentage of the metropolitan population consists

of poor rural migrants many of whom occupy the favelss

surrounding the central city. Most of these families pro-

vide the unskilled and semi-skilled low-wage workers for

building construction, small industries, odd jobs, and

household domestic employment.

The physical aspect of Belo Horizonte is not strikingly

different from other major metropolises in terms of social

ecology. The metropolitan area of Belo Horizonte consists

of the central city, its industrial and residential suburbs,

and the periphery where the recreational area is found. The

central city is primarily a trade and transportation center

with residential housing as well. The topographical aspect

of Belo Horizcnte and its environs has influenced its develop-

ment and gives the city itself an unusual structure. It is

situated between the mountainous region of central Minas

Gerais and the wide plains of the STo Francisco valley. The

central city is relatively flat, including the portion of

the city planned in 1897, bounded by the Contorno Avenue.

The portions of the city ,which reflect expansion outside of

this area are in parts extremely hilly. The stream which

passes through the center of the city has few bridges which

created problems of access to the northwestern part of the

city which has flatter terrain.

Belo Horizonte has benefited from its central geographic

position in the :-state by attracting corrmerce and trade from

areas of Minas Gerais formerly linked to S-o Paulo and Rio

de Janeiro (see Figure 1 above). In addition, it is located

in the center of the Iron Quadrangle which has allowed it

to become a major steel center. In its industrial park,

the most important industry in terns of emplo:rment and income

generated is steel followed by textiles and food processing.

In the 197C census, the metropolitan area of Belo Horizonte

(described as its micro-region) had the highest density of

population in the state: 293.97 inhabitants per square

kilometer (IEGE 1971:13).

Clearly, Belo Horizonte is rapidly modernizing through

the immern-e eccrormic changes which have resulted in the

establishment of large factories, central offices of corpora-

tions arnd ager:cie.s, and new types of employer-employee rela-

tionships. In response to this change, the administrative

institutions ha-.-e expanded to accommodate the greater popu-

lation of the metropolitan areas. The -cligicus institutions

have exhibited a great degree of modernization. For example,

the churches ha-.-e entered into new roles, becoming active in

social service functions and initiating new programs of

activities for members. The number of Protestant churches,

the openness of worship in Protestant sects and the size of

the non-Catholic churches and their property holdings all

indicate a greater diversity, of religious belief and a

more open acceptance of pluralism and the secular outlook

associated with modernization (GTBH 1972). The number of

schools and the variety of outlooks such as Protestant,

Catholic, municipal, stat.e,commnercial, vocational, foreign

language and others which are presented by their staffs also

indif:cte increased secularization (GTBH 1972). The public

sectcr in secondary education has more facilities per capital

than small regional centers, but the majority cf the

secondary schools are not run by government or private

institutions. As a result of the industrialization, secu-

larization and modernization of Belo Horizonte, increasing

status differentiation is occurring there, resulting in the

emergence of a middle class.

The Middle Class: Life Style and Values

If one defines the "essence of social stratification"

as does Marvin Harris by the "asymmetrical distribution of

power," (Harris 1971:414), one readily sees that in Brazilian

society as found in Belo Horizornt' the middle and lower classes

are indeed expend energy under conditions set

by super-ordinate elites to enhance their own power. This

definition is perhaps most useful on the level of macro-

analysis of society-wide stratification, but not so useful

for discerning what Harris himself calls subcultural dif-

ferences within classes (Harris 1971:426).

This study makes use of such subcultural differentiation

within the class of the subordinated precisely because it

is an area of impact of urbanization on behavior'. Brazilian

middle classes, as in the rest of Latin America, are pre-

dominately urban phenomena, (Wagley 1968:197).

A word of caution concerning the definition of middle

class is appropriate here. The term, middle class, does not

refer to the same set of occupations, income levels and

prestige ranking for Brazilians as it does for North Ameri-

cans. As Wagley points out, for instance, the middle class

in Latin American society is poorly paid, and some practi-

tioners of lower prestige occupations may earn more money

than practitioners of higher prestige middle class occupa-

tions (1968:197). Furthermore, some occupations which

might be considered middle class in the United States would

be considered lower class in Brazil.

However, this study does not propose to enter into the

debate about the usefulness or universality of one strati-

ficational analysis as opposed to another. The class which

has been studied here considers itself to be middle class

and is looked upon by upper strata as middle class, although

members of lower classes may consider middle class people


Thus, for the purposes of this study, I have concluded,

after spending thirteen months in Eelo Horizonte, that there

is an objectively identifiable stratum which can be called a

middle class, based on the criteria of level of income, occu-

pational prestige, level of education, life style and atti-

tudes. The identifying characteristics of this stratum are

summarized as follows. The level of income of members of

the middle class in Belo Horizonte allows them to have domes-

tic servants (housekeepers, maids, laundresses and nurses

for children) as well as such technological amenities as

automobiles, televisions and telephones.

Both men and women tend to be concerned about having

a "satisfying" and "interesting" career which has relatively

high pay without being too "hard" work. The criteria of

"hardness" include boring, repetitive and dull tasks, re-

quiring strength and dexterity rather than mental accuity.

Members of the middle class are known for holding multiple

jobs which often are very tiring due to the premium placed

on time available, but all of which require intelligence

and special training. For instance, the administrator of

a prestigious high school was also a professor at a medical

school. Another example is that of a man who held two

professorships and a government appointment at the same time.

Members of the middle class say that they value being

close to members of their families and the places in which

they grew up; in addition, their behavior shows that they

live near relatives. They view the city as being a better

place to live than the country (the interior) which refers

to smaller cities, towns, villages as well as rural open

country. The interior is described as nice but without the

means to live a decent life (sem recursos). The members of

the middle class view themselves as being self-initiating

in career choices, but they know and depend on the personal

evaluations of administrators (often through family members)

to help them succeed in their professional lives rather than

stringent rules or bureaucratic "fairness" edicts.

In their personal lives their attitudes toward marriage

reflect change from "traditional" Brazilian patterns. Mar-

riage is often deferred until after education and employment

are secured for both the husband and wife. Many, especially

women, hold egalitarian sex-role ideals. This phenomenon

usually is found in families where women contribute sub-

stantially to the family income. Younger women, unlike

their mothers, feel free to have non-domestic roles but not

to abandon the roles of home manager and mother. Today it

is a more common attitude, especially among the younger women,

that marriage should not deny a v-oman a career but that the

career should be balanced with the woman's primary respon-

sibilities for running the home. However, the idea that a

woman should commit herself to full time childrearing,

consumerism and domestic duties is becoming obsolete, and

the younger women pity the older women whose children have

left them with "nothing to do." The idea that the woman

should always accede to her husband's demands has given way

to the concept of "give and take" and mutual understanding

in marriage in the ideals of the middle class.

Attitudes on childrearing approximate Herbert Cans'

model of the adult-directed pattern (Cans 1962:54). Parents

see themselves under the obligation to provide healthful and

beneficial living conditions for their children, but the

children, in return, are expected to conform to adult life

styles and refrain from interfering with adult wishes.

Parents state that secondary and university education is

very important for children to obtain the most satisfactory

professional life. Therefore, childrearing practices are

said to be aimed at developing "good personal adjustment"

for the child, providing play and enrichment opportunities

for them in areas such as art, music and foreign language

learning. Children are instructed to make choices in life

which will be beneficial to the families' and their own

futures. This orientation is not clearly individualistic.

On the contrary, childrearing practices seem to be aimed at

sensitizing children to decisions which affect the familial

situation. Learning that family members are key contacts

for gaining and maintaining status in the society begins

at a young age. Children receive guidance, attention,

gifts and punishment from various family members, not just

their parents. Romances between cousins as children are

common and are encouraged by the adults in a joking fashion,

although cousin marriage is exceedingly rare in the urban

setting, a change from the agrarian generation now in middle

and old age.)

This chapter has attempted to outline the methodology

and the setting for the study in order to show how the par-

ticular set of problems outlined in the previous chapter

will be answered by the data collected and the analysis

given to it. The particular methods chosen for this study

in conjunction with the setting of a rapidly modernizing

Brazilian metropolis with a growing middle sector are

especially appropriate for research into middle class urban

kinship networks and the impact of the forces of moderniza-

tion, urbanization and industrialization on them.

*Salzano and Friere-Maia report that the rate of consan-
guineous marriages declined between 1924 and 1952 (1967:84).
They also report that Ninas Gerais is in an area with a
medium degree of inbreeding (1967:86).



The study of networks of middle class kin provides a

better opportunity to explore the dimensions of the way of

life in this strata in the urban setting than traditional

structural perspectives. Most of the concepts and cate-

gories which social scientists customarily use to discuss

kinship patterns were originally developed for the purpose

of the definition of a fairly rigid social structure. This

study uses man' of these traditional concepts and categories,

but attempts to adapt them to the network approach, which,

of course, emphasizes the options open to individuals and

discusses decision-making and procedures used by members

of networks. As a result, this study begins by defining

the orienting family within the developmental cycle of

domestic groups (Goody 1958) and then discusses individuals,

their identity formation and the ways in which interpersonal

roles are adopted and evolve.

The Orienting Family: A Definition

In this chapter, the Brazilian data collected by the

previously described strategies and techniques are analyzed

for content relative to the reference group I chose to call

the orientir.g family. I use this designation because of

certain problems with Warner's dichotomy adopted by Parsons


between the family of orientation and the family of procrea-

tion. The family of orientation, according to Parsons, was

the family reference group of the child, adolescent or un-

married adult in American culture. The family of procreation,

on the other hand, was the familial reference group of the

married adult (Parsons 1943). Parsons was attempting to

make an important distinction between the family one grows

up with in United States culture from the family one lives

in during adulthood and old age.

This distinction, however, is simplistic even in its

application to the United States case since growing numbers

of people in that society live in kin arrangements which

they assert do not exist for the purposes of procreation,

but for mutual aid, companionship and other types of support

(Peck and Senderowitz 197: 749-314). In addition, much of

the literature on the family in theUnited States supports

the contention that socialization or orientation is an

on-going process in the family, within which adults and

children orient adults as well as adults orient children

(Barry and Roberts 1972; Banton 1970; Thomas 1971;

Lewis 1971).

H Nevertheless, Parson's notion that the child's-eye-

view of the family should be conceptually distinguished

from the adult's-eye-view in analyzing the family is impor-

tant because these two views and concepts associated with

them are often quite different. The Brazilian example

reported in this study demonstrate that the two concepts are

not only culturally distinct, but .re even linguistically

treated in a distinct fusion in the Brazilian language>

In this chapter, therefore, I will discuss the aspects of

orienting and being oriented which occur in Brazilian middle

class culture. I am not discussing a pure, nuclear family,

since such an entity rarely exists for more than a few months

at a time in the developmental cycle of domestic groups

among middle class Brazilians. I am discussing the role

relationships among the members of domestic groups which

lead to the amalgamation of the members into self-recog-

nizing kinship group which plays a number of unique roles

in Brazilian urban culture.

The Developmental Cycle: The Child's View

Among the urban middle class Brazilian families studied,

most children live for the first several years of their

lives in residential groups which are composed of father,

mother, siblings and servants, a group Berlinck defines

as the "service extended family" (Berlinck 1969:32) and

which I call the core residential unit (see Chapter IV).

During this period they also spend significant periods of

time each day with other members of their kinship networks,

usually grandparents, especially maternal grandmothers,

and aunts, uncles and cousins. During the teen years,

many such residential units gain a widowed grandparent,

usually a matrilateral grandmother or a spinster aunt.

During both of these phases of the cycle, cousins sometimes

come to stay with the residential group for relatively short

periods such as vacations or for longer periods such as

several years of schooling.'

The next phase in the developmental cycle is the

addition of a spouse of one of the children to the resi-

dential group. Although most children marry to leave home

and establish their own core units, it is not unusual to

have one married child living at home with her his spouse.

Widowed, abandoned or legally separated daughters- sometimes

rejoin the parental home bringing their children with them,

but in many cases they avoid such a loss of autonomy, even

if they have to give up their children.

Pregnancy usually signals the time for the young

married couple living in the home of one set of parents

to set up their own household. The preferred location for

this apartment or house is near the wife's parental home

either in the same apartment building, on the same street

or at least in the same neighborhood.. At this time the

young couple sets up a core residential unit which gains

and loses members as previously described, until the

couple, in late middle age, is left residing alone, but

usually near at least one of their daughters, whose children

are often daily visitors in their home. Thus, when the

widowed parent joins the child's domestic group, continual

contact usually has been maintained throughout the years

with the child, the spouse of the child and the children

of the child.

The Concept of Family

While the concept of domestic group should be, for

analytical purposes, distinct from the concept of the

family as advocated by Fortes (1958:1-13), in actual prac-

tice, especially in American culture, they are used inter-

changeably. The literature on the institution of the United

States family has created a concept of family ..,hich reflects

North American culture. Parsons claimed that Americans make

a basic distinction between "family" as the conjugal unit,

and "relatives" as any kinsman (1943:25). In addition,

Parsons' hypothesis, that the necessity to maintain symmetri-

cal ties with both husband's and wife's relatives caused the

increasing emphasis on isolation of the conjugal unit, is

supported by his assertion that kinship terminology has an

"onion" type structure, and that siblings' spouses are

terminologically assimilated to sibling status (1943:26).

Arensberg's findings which emphasized that the American

term "family" (when used to mean only spouse and offspring

or even only spouse) would be difficult to explain in other

cultures, are supported by the present study. Although the

"immediate family" is universal in existence, it is,

according to Arensberg, extremely varied in the component

roles, duration, size of household and behavior patterns.

Furthermore, he points out that in many cultures the con-

jugal relationship and the cooperation of married partners

may not be the central family relationship. He concludes

that the American family must be seen as the result of a

limited and and highly particular social and legal evolution

v.hich should not be generalized to Brazilian society


Schneider also defines the concept of the "family"

in American society somewhat differently from Parsons and

Arensberg. The term "family" can mean all of one's relatives

but "my family" or "the famil-y" means a unit which consists

of the conjugal unit and offspring (196C:30). As will be

shovm below, the American usage of "family" cannot be

literally translated into the familiar of Brazilian culture

because farrmilia is used differently in Brazilian Portu-

guese from "family" in American English.

The Concept of Familia

Most of the previous descriptive and functional studies

of Brazilian kinship have noted that the term familiar had

several distinctive meanings. Wagley's discussion of

Brazilian concepts of family reports the difference in usage

between the term familiar and the terms for spouse and

children. The famfiia is an Ego-focused kindred which

emphasizes consanguineal relations. However, when referring

to the nuclear family of female pouse and children a male

will use the terms "mulher e filhos" rather than familiar.

Kottak (1967) noted that the term was found to mean either

the nuclear family, or the parentela, or an ancestor-

oriented kin group. Borges Costa (1955) allowed two defi-

nitions: either the nuclear group or the parentela.

Use of "Familia" by Informants '

The findings of this study indicate that the term

familiar (family) is used in a number of different ways by

Brazilian informants. It was frequently used to refer to

the sibling group, i.e., "I was the sixth child in a family

of tv.elve," or "I come from a family of five brothers and

sisters." It was also used by married adults to refer to

their childhood domestic residence group in contrast with

that of their spouses, as in "My family lives relatively

near." Sometimes it was used to refer to some part of the

extended kin group, as in "all the family went," "the whole

family attended the birthday luncheon," or "my mother's

family was handsome," or "his whole family is in the Army,"

or "I don't like family gatherings." It was also used to

refer to a unit consisting of parents and children from

the viewpoint of the children, as in "the family moved"

or "the family was transferred." Finally, it was used by

women to refer to other women's husband and children, as

in "she is totally devoted to her family," although it was

never used that way by a woman talking about her own husband

and children. Furthermore, the term familiar was never used

by males to refer to the unit of wife and children; there,

the usual terms were "woman and children" (mulher e filhos),

confirming Wagley's findings.

The informants studied apparently see familiar as a

concept to be used in a variety of situationally appropriate

ways. It does not always or even primarily mean the unit

of husband, wife and children, especially from the viewpoint

of the husband and wife. Indeed, it more ordinary for

the adults to refer to "the people at home" (pessoal em

casa) rather than the "family" when discussing the residen-

tial group.

Informants expressed strong attitudes about their o.rwn

families: that they were important, normal and good, that

their parents were kind to them and fussed over them, that

children were treated in a balanced fashion when parents

and grandparents distributed presents and other benefits.

The questionnaire data support these attitudes. Out of

229 middle class respondents, 72.5,, reported that the famiiia

was "extremely important" to them, with only O.4 reporting

that the familiar was "relatively unimportant" to them. It

is assumed that respondents used familiar, as most Brazilians

do, in its extended sense.


What is the Importance of the Familia in Your Life?

Absolute Relative
Frequency Frequency

1. Extremely important 166 72.5

2. Important 53 23.1

3. So-So 9 3.9

4. Relatively without importance 1 0.4

5. Without any importance 0 0.0

Some of the reasons for this use of the concept of familiar

and ttre values associated with it can be discovered by looking

at the formation of individual identity in tne enculturation

process. In this study the term familiar will be translated

as family, but the distinctive Brazilian usage is the conno-

tation intended.

Individual Identity

This study revealed that the notion of autonomy in

decision-making, especially in choosing career and other

life goals among the urban middle class Brazilians studied

is virtually unknou-n. One mother said, "Our children are

very dependent. They like the comfort of staving at home."

The idea of a child leaving home to set up her 'his olwn

apartment before marriage .was unheard of, except in the

cases of university students 'who were living in another

city to attend school. Another mother commeinted that if

a daughter .-.ere to move aw'ay from home before marriage,

it would d be "an affront, that she no longer w.:anted to have

anything to do -w.ith her parents." Another informant said

that if a daughter left home it would be more serious than

a son "because we're still in the medieval mentality that

a '.ioman has to be led from hand to hand, from father to

husband." The idea of remaining at home until marriage is

correlated ..ith the strong control parents desire to expert

over premarital sexuality and. spcuse selection cf female

children. Premarital chastity is expected of females

although it is assumed that males have premarital sexual

experiences. Males are also thought to be incapable of

taking care of themselves in the domestic context, and that

therefore the notion of a male residing alone or with other

males is considered absurd, although males do romanticize

the role cf the single. bahelor.

Individual Identitj. and Sex Role Differentiation

The sharp differentiation of sex roles begins early.

Little boys are ridiculed for invading the female sphere

by playing with dolls, toy dishes, pans or furniture. One

afternoon, I observed two mothers, a maid, and two female

children, aged 3 and 4 laughing at a 3-year-old boy for

trying to "mother" a doll. His 4-year-old sister, hands

on her hips, told him, "Look Roderico, you have to be the

father, because you are a man. Hiow, I'll be the mother,

she'll be the maid and you'll be the father." The other

women laughed at his disappointed expression. A child

psychologist who was interviewed said "parents don't allow

boys to cry or play with dolls. They are more rigorous in

their expectations of sons. If I find that a boy has a

mental deficiency, it's much more difficult co tell the

parents." Much more is expecteJ of boys in terms of school

work and grades too. One young man described how, during

his childhood, he became extremely ill through foolishly

going swimming in a polluted stream, but nevertheless forced

himself to take his final exams in order to avoid the w.rrath

of his parents, especially his father, as a result of his


According to a number of informants, male children

are more highly valued by adult males than female children.

One informant reported that the youngest of her sibling

group was the only male, "ardently awaited by my father."

Another informant reported that when a male is born, every-

one congratulates the parents and says how good it is, but

when a female is born, people often say, "What a pity,

another who will suffer." Men often tease pregnant women

about the arrival of an herdeiro (a male heir). Precedents

for this favoritism exist in the rural traditions of Minas

Gerais. Legally, children were supposed to inherit equally,

regardless of sex, but in fact, inheritances were often

divided unequally if not in quantity then in quality. Often

the female heirs of landed estates got smaller pieces of

poor quality land, which they usually agreed to sell to their

brothers for very low prices. (Informants reported these

events in their family histories.) In addition, some families

had birthright traditions which accorded certain privileges

to males which were not accorded to females. One informant

reported, "While my grandfather was alive, each grandson

born received a cow as a birthright. These cattle would

be taken care of on the farm and all of their offspring

would accrue to the grandson. The granddaughters received

nothing. A couple of years ago, rmy brother sold enough

cattle to make a trip to the United States."

The roles played by women are learned by middle class

Brazilian girls through play and imitation, but rarely

through formal instruction. Many women felt inadequate to

the tasks of organizing and managing a home upon marriage.

One informant said, "Girls are not taught anything about

domestic tasks. I had never done an'-ything when I married."

This lack of training in domestic r-sanagement is due in large

part to the prevalence of servants among: this class. In

addition, the girls learn to hold negative attitudes toward

their .own sexuality. One mother told me thut when she gave

a sexual orientation to her daughter for the first time

that her daughter's response was "I'm never going to marry."

Her mother attributed this to her virtues of morality and

modesty. -Middle class Brazilian girls learn that domestic

tasks such as cleaning and cooking are not valued highly

and that sexual acts are supposedly impure. They also learn,

however, that to achieve their goals they must manipulate

others to respond to their needs. In one of the families

studied, a young woman who worked at a bank quit her job

to stay home. According to a number of her relatives, she

was jealous of her brother whose college education had been

paid for by their parents. Her parents wanted her to get

married and didn't believe that she should go to school,

so she stayed home. Her father gave her-an allowance

equivalent to her former salary, with which to buy items

for her trousseau.

It .was common for the girls of these families to work

before marriage, but only professional women continued to

work after marriage. Many employers, including the Bank

of Brazil, have rules against, employing married women.

Parents encourage their daughters to uork if they do not

have marriage prospects available, but fathers, husbands

and boyfriends often put pressure on young women to quit

jobs or refrain from working. lion-professional occupations

were considered demeaning to the family's prestige; only

financial necessity induces these women to pursue such jobs.

Many families had histories of conflicts between fathers

and daughters, contests of will concerning the appropriate

behavior expected of young, women. Mothers, on the other

hand, rarely were reported as aggressive or attempting to

force attitudes or actions on their children. Legally, the

civil code bears out this difference between the father and

mother role, in the area of the granting of permission

for marriages of minors. "In the case both parents are

alive, the father's word will prevail. Only a judge can

overrule a father's decision"(Civil Code 183:I-XI)

The traditional religious views on -ex: roles which are

formally taught in parochial schools. that girls should be

pious and virtuous, were thought by most female informants

to be psychologically harmful. One informant put it this

.ay, "I had faith; I was pious, but I really didn't like

this stuff about being a 'daughter of Mary.' Why not

enjoy yourself, you are making a good use of parties and

then Christ also is a happy Christ . .. When I realized

this, Christ stopped being a Christ with a v:hip in hand and

changed into a Christ with a baton in hand." Brazilian

parents discourage pietistic behavior in their children and

usually discourage their children from entering religious

vocations. As a result, those who enter the seminary or

convent are usually people who possess psychological traits

which are different from the ordinary or who had different

role models.

Individual Identity and Occupations

Informants discussed forty-seven different occupa-

tions w-ith respect to their preferences, their families'

attitudes and their own criteria for occupational choice.

Occupations identified as working class jobs, such as sales-

person, non-graduate nurse, factory worker, watchman, seam-

stress, tailor, carter, laundress, electrician, maid, plumber,

and carpenter were denigrated. No one interviewed desired

to follow any of these occupations. Typically, middle class

Brazilians scoff at the crude manners of working class

members. One informant reported that her brother alw'.ays

said that when a person was using profane, obscene or gross

speech that "he has opened the manual of the carter or the

laundress." The occupation of nursing is associated with

little of the professional dignity accorded it in the United

States. Indeed, it was common for middle class families

to nurse their own members during hospital stays because

nurses are considered incompetent and careless of their


Most informants '..anted to have professional or white

collar occupations, with the exception of many of the women

xwho aspired to be donas da casa (homemakers) and mothers."

The occupations which were mentioned as being held and

esteemed within the group studied included bank manager,

student, teacher, journalist, school administrator, biolo-

gist, engineer, medical doctor, librarian, publisher, college

professor, bank clerk, secretary, lawyer, judge, computer

programmer, business manager, artist, musician, veterinarian,

landlord, priest, nun, flight attendant, travel agent,

bureaucrat, state governor, government minister, pharmacist,

homemaker, mother, ranch owner-operator, tax: collector,

psychologist, sociologist, architect and interpreter.

Within these occupations, informants made the most favorable

comments about a small group including journalist, biologist,

engineer, medical doctor, veterinarian, pharmacist, psycho-

logist and architect. The prestige of these occupations

seems to result from the great amount of education required

for them which limits entry and all but e::cludes persons

of lower class origin. In addition, the-y are, on the whole,

lucrative professions which h are in demand, minimizing the

nece-ssit: for geographic mobility.

An interesting characteristic of the notion of occu-

pational identity in the group studied seems to result

from the Brazilian idenri-,y card system. The identity card

4Informants did not treat "wife" (esposa or mulher) as an
occupational category.

system labels college graduates with a particular designa-

tion, whether or not they are actually employed in that

occupation.. As a result, the prestige of an occupation

accrues to a person upon attaining the qualifications to

follow it, rather than on the actual exercise of the occupa-


Individual Identitv and the Family

Even before marriage, members of the middle class in

Belo Horizonte are not very individualistic in orientation.

Sex role differences are a very, important part of the sociali-

zation process and are reflected in many aspects of individual

identity. Attitudes are formed toward, various occupations

which influence career choice. However, the most important

aspect impinging upon individual identity among the middle

class of Belo Horizonte is the pervasive power of the resi-

dential unit and the extended family. This influence tends

to promote certain social personality traits. Some traits

found include submission to authority, independence from

non-family members and concomitant dependency on the family,

indecision, high interaction needs, expectation of communal

resolution of conflict, familial solidarity, sensitivity to

informal social sanctions such as gossip, uilt at separation

from the family, perception of self as group member, notion

of the necessity of balance and equity, weakness in acceptance

of deferred gratification, family pride, repression of anger,

passivity, rebelliousness, marty-rdom, and enforced empatny

(expectation to feel the way others do).

These traits are illustrated by behavior and formal

legal definitions of familial power. For example, in a

conflict with her mother-in-law, one informant called upon

her father and brothers to protect her. Another informant

reported lengthy consultation with her father about a poten-

tial marriage she was considering. A third informant who

argued with her husband about lending money to their son,

arranged a loan from her brother to demonstrate she "could

resolve things alone."

"-The legal code gives the father almost total power

over minor children (under age 16) and continuing influence

over adult children. The father must bring up and educate

children and give them "moral, spiritual and professional"

orientation. He is expected to keep them "in his company."

His consent is necessary for the marriage of minor children.

The children must give both parents "obedience, respect and

services." The father has the right to use the goods of the

children except in the case of his exclusion. The father's

power over children can be suspended if the father abuses

his power or fails to fulfill his obligations vis-a-vis the

child. The code specifies that the father is to "give

assistance" to his children who are no longer minors (Civil

Code 183). As a result, the power of the family is quite

influential in the development of individual identity.


In Brazil, marriage, when properly carried out, is

considered permanent. (There is no divorce in Brazil,

although under certain circumstances a marriage can be

considered as never taking place.) When anyone, including

members of the middle class in Belo Horizo.nte, marries, a

ritual event takes place which signals changes in personal

roles, status and the expectations associated ,with them.

These changes occur in the areas of occupational and career

activity, sexuality, psychic dependence, jealousy, surname

use, and residence.

The Marriage Ritual

Members of the middle class almost always have both

civil and religious wedding ceremonies, since each act is

considered a separate event, giving separate rights and

duties. Civil marriage covers legal rights, religious

marriage, social sanction.

Marriage in Brazil and else.-here is a rite which

indisputably makes changes in status which are important

to society, the families and the individuals involved. But

not all anthropologists agree that all types of marriage

are strictly defined as "rites of passage." Gluckman (1962),

for instance, claims that the "rites of passage" as defined

by Van Gennep (1909) are "incompatible with the structure

of modern urban life." He asserts .that although some

ceremonies exist to mark changes of status in modern societies,

that these rites are not the same kind as those found in

tribal societies (Gluckman 1962:37). Gluckman allows that

although etiquette and convention exist in the rites of

modern society they do not include the mystical association

between social misfortune and ritual failure found among

tribal people (1962:38). However, he does recognize that

he has overstated the contrast between the two types of

societies, and that, indeed, there are often "pockets of

social relations" in modern societies which have rites of

passage which are quite similar to those of tribal socie-

ties (1962:43). Gluckman's point is somewhat well taken

in that it is undeniable that the quality of ritual life

of the majority of urban residents is less than mystical

and perhaps more segregated from other activities than

that of tribal peoples. Nevertheless, these "pockets"

do occur in all modern societies because of subcultural

segmentation. In the present study, the networks of middle

class people which are being examined constitute one of

these pockets and for gcod reason. Although this class

is not in the majority among Brazil's residents it is much

more powerful than its numbers would indicate and it has

strong economic and political interests which require the

maintenance of group solidarity through rites of incorpora-

tion such as the marriage ritual.

Middle class weddings achieve this goal through the

involvement of kin in the ritual of marriage as well as

the involvement of kin in the facilitation of the bureaucratic

exigencies of the legal and religious process. (The pre-

ceding courtship and spouse selection are dealt with later

in this chapter in the discussion of the interactions between

parents and children.) Eefore discussing the direct involve-

ment of kin in the marriage ritual and other phases of the

process, however, a description of the components of mar-

riage must be `given. Before receiving the legal right to

marry, a young couple which desires to marry must fulfill

requirements for each of the two types of ceremonies, the

religious and the civil. The religious ceremony cannot bei

held without permission from the church hierarchy, to marry,

ideally requiring the submission of baptismal certificates,

certificates of completion of a premarital counseling course

and the costing of the bans. A priest must celebrate the

wedding with the presence of at least four godparents who

are charged with counseling the couple in case of problems.

The civil ceremony is not supposed to take place w ith-

out birth certificates and a statement of marital status.

Women must be at least l6. years of age, men, 13 years of

age. Between those ages and the age of majority of years

written authorization of father's consent to marry is re-

quired. In addition, two witnesses must submit affidavits

that no impediments exist bet.w.een the parties. Proof of

death, annulment or an approved foreign divorce are nec-

essary for previously married persons. These documents

are submitted to the Civil Recistry which issues proclama-

tions of intent to marry which are published as legal

notices in newspapers and posted in a public place for 15

days. Following this period, a 3-month marriage license

is issued to the couple. The civil marriage ig performed

by a notary: public and must be registered after the cere-

mon, in order to be valid. Civil marriages are considered

void if certain "absolute" impediments exist. A spouse may

not be related by adoptive, consanguineal or affinal ties

of lineal kinship. In other words, one may not marry

ancestors or descendants. Furthermore, marriages between

consanguineal or adoptive siblings are deemed void.

Persons who are already married also may not marry again.

Finally, a marriage cannot take place if one of the parties

has been convicted of adultery or of the murder of the

former spouse of the other party (Civil Code, Article 183:


Relative impediments to marriage exist if one of the

parties is coerced into marriage by physical violence or

kidnapping or is incompetent to make a legally binding

decision by being deaf and dumb or by being insane.

Minors, younger than 16 for girls and 18 for bcys, are

also considered incompetent to make the decision to marry

and may not marry except in the case of pregnancy and, then,

only with judicial consent (Civil Cde 183:IX-XII). Marriage

is also prohibited for reason of "confusion of inheritances,"

that is, until the estate of the dead spouse is settled or

until ten months have passed for the possible birth of a

child of the dead spouse. The 10-month waiting period can

be waived if proof of impotency or non-cohabitation of the

spouses prior to death is submitted. Trustees, guardians

and fiduciaries and their lineal kin, siblings, spouses

of siblings and children of siblings are prohibited from

marrying their wards without judicial permission under the

same principle (conflict of interest).

Members of the middle class who wish to marry but

find the necessary documentation for the two ceremonies

difficult to obtain sometimes call upon kin to facilitate

the bureaucratic process. One couple, for example, who

were living ini different cities at the time of engagement

did not have time to attend the premarital counseling

course offered by the church. The groom, therefore, con-

tacted his cousin who was a priest, to certify that they

had taken the course, when, in fact, they had not. This

process of using "pull" or cutting red tape is referred to

by the phrase dar umr jeito. Kin are often called upon to

help pull strings for their relatives in a variety of cir-


Usually both the religious and the civil ceremonies

are attended by kin in both observer and participant

roles. The civil ceremony- usually has witnesses; the

legal min-imum is two, but no wedding I attended had less

than four, a couple representing each party. These wit-

nesses are often called godparents of civil marriages

(padrinhos do casamento civil), although they are not

involved in the religious ceremony. The religious ceremony

requires participation by at least two couples of godparents

but often as many, as four couples will participate. Both

types of godparents are chosen almost entirely from the

kinship network. The religious ceremony involves th-e par-

ticipation of the bride, groo, godparents, priest, and

sometimes, the whole body of relatives attending the cere-

mony. One religious ceremony I attended included spoken

parts for the priest, the bride, the groom, the godparents,

the relatives and all ,who attended. A small.. excerpt reflects

the important role family members play in the process of

establishing a new marriage.

Family: Since the first jay in which we sensed
the beat ing of your hearts, our thoughts
have returned to God, in prayers of offering
and thanksgiving. Since that moment 'til
today, we have tried to form in y;u the desire
tc live in love. With great joy, we saw the
love between you born and become firm. Today
we bles-. the union in which you propose to
live. May God take you through the same path
of love which he has taken us. May you have all
of the strength to construct the home which
you plan, under our confident gaze.

Bride and Groom: Vie know how tj construct our home,
taking the solid foundation which you, our
parents, with such struggle and self-sacrifice
have been able to establish in our hearts.

It is exceedingly clear from the words of this ritual that

the couple and the family are talking to each other and

that the family e::pects to play a continued role in the

couple's life.

Relatives sometimes become involved in more than just

the ceremony. One woman described how many relatives and

friends sought out her parents to get them to prohibit her

marriage because her intended husband was an outsider whom

no one knew. The importance of the ritual of marriage as

an incorporation rite for the families involved is indicated

by the following story of a single girl who'Tarried" a man

who was legally separated (desquitado). Her mother said that

this type of marriage "is a recognized marriage, in spite

of not being recognized by law, legally, it is recognized

by all families and all accept this type cf marriage very

well . .. So we made a wedding for them through the

offices of a 'priest' of a Brazilian church* which does

these weddings, and she, after marrying him, wvrent to Rio."

During another discussion, the mother of the bride said

that her daughter wanted the wedding at home in order to

not call attention to it. She added that some people took

the parts of godparents, but The didn't invite the relatives

to do it "because they didn't understand as well as her

contemporaries." But the relatives did attend the ceremony.

Another woman who was herself desquitada arranged a "blessing"

in a Catholic church, but it was not a w-edding. Everyone

said it was an attempt to dress up the truth, "to cover the

sun with a sieve" as one relative put it.

The rites of remarriage seem to be less functional

as rites of incorporation than a normal first marriage

ceremony. Following both the civil and religious cere-

monies the ritual continues with receptions where food

and drink are often served. If the couple has the religious

YIgreja Catolica Brasileira (not a Roman Catholic church)

and civil ceremonies one after another on the same day,

one reception will be given. Usually candy, cake and

champagne are served. When the two ceremonies are or

different days one informant said that a reception of

drinks and hot hours d'oeurves was served after the civil

ceremony on the eve of the religious ceremony. Follo'.-ing

the religious ceremony, the bride hosted a luncheon for the

godparents, the more intimate relatives and the relatives

from out of town. The number of guests at the wedding

ceremonies is often as many as 150, but the associated

receptions and meals vary in the number of guests.

The rites are not necessarily segregated in specialized

buildings. Very often the civil ceremony is in the home

before the religious ceremony. However, religious ceremonies

are almost always held in a church building.

Sex Roles in Marriaae

The religious service traditionally makes allusions to

the roles expected to be played by the spouses, reflecting

the ideal pattern of the society. One religious service

had the following spoken part for the entire assembled body

of guests who address the Groom: "Your hands will have to

work, but that work will give you support, and even happi-

ness and well being. Your wife will be the companion who,

with you, will create your home. Your children, fruit of

your love, will bring joy to your table." As can be seen

here, the husband is expected to support his wife and

children, and the wife is expected to "create the home."

However, many middle class women have careers which take

them outside the home, and often their income is what

really allows the household to maintain a middle class

life style. Usually, occupations pursued primarily by

women have low pay and prestige. For instance, primary

school teachers, almost all of whom are uomen, vrork four

hours in the classroom per day plus preparation tine for

salaries near the minimum wage, appro:ximatel- US $60 per

month, although there are slight variations depending on

whether the school is municipal or state. (State school

teachers are paid slightly more.) Teachers- at middle

schools (ginssics) and high schools (coiegios) (both male

and female) are paid at a much higher rate, although their

salaries are based on the number of classes they teach.

They receive approximately US $2.00 to US $2.50 per class

hour taught. Nevertheless, even at these low wages, middle

class employed women can afford to hire servants for much

less to perform domestic duties which are even lower in

prestige. Many of these middle class women claim to obtain

much satisfaction from their work, an additional incentive

to seek employment, even at low wages. One woman who has

a state job as a psychologist but who gets paid slightly

more than a primary school teacher never complained about

her pay, saying, "I like my job very much and I feel very

fulfilled by it. It brings me a lot of satisfaction."

She did not remark on the fact that her husband makes ten

times her salary with a similar amount of education.

In co-worker situations, informants reported that women

are often criticized unfairly and are rarely promoted. One

woman, a biochemist, reported that her co-workers always

seemed amazed when she did her work well. Another ,woman

w;as incensed when her husband told her a story about dis-

crimination against a female engineer by male co-workers.

At my husband's work there is a woman who
works there. The men give her wrong data
so that her work comes out wrong. They are
always surprised when she wins a competition
or does very well. There used to be two girls
working there, one of them .was not a good
professional and they wanted to send both of
them away. Jose defended the other one against
this discrimination. He didn't believe it when
she told him that the others were giving her
erroneous data. I found out when some of my
husband's colleagues were boasting at a party
that they were mes-ing her up by giving her
erroneous data.

Another informant said "there's a lot of talk about the

changing role of woman in Brazil but it's more talk than


The Civil Code specifies the rights and the duties of

the spouses. The husband is the "head of the matrimonial

society" (Article 233, Law 4141, August 27, 1962). In this

capacity he is the legal representative of the family, adm-in-

istrator of common property and his wife's property. It

is his choice to decide here the family home will be and

"family maintenance" is his responsibility "together with

his wife." He is prohibited from alienating or mortgaging

comr-cn property or the wife's property without her consent

or give away donations of value. The wife may accept or

reject her own. inheritances, act as a guardian, pursue a

career outside the home, instigate civil suits on her o.rn,

and may, for professional purposes have "reserved goods"

including a separate bank account, a house in her own name

and the right to dispose of these goods as she sees fit.

Pereira's interpretation of the Civil Code states that

a wife does not "do secondary work nor does she occupy a

subordinated place. She directs her house, administers

herself internally, supervises accompanies and directs her

children's studies, hires and fires servants and does her

shopping, even on credit" (1972::117). However, the power

to contract loans, to purchase on credit and to make pro-

fessional obligations is limited and requires husband's

or judicial consent. Her legal rights also include the

action as guardian or trustee for children of a former

marriage and their property, and the repossession of

improperly alienated common property and excessive donations

or contributions made by her husband, whether or not a

contract is involved, Brazilian women, therefore, are

legally bound to. their husband's power, but have certain

types of legal recourse if he abuses his po'ewer.

Prior to the Civil Code of 1916, the "marital power"

which was vested in the husband required the absolute

obedience of the wife and made the .iomien juridically

incompetent, along with minors, the handicapped and the

insane. The Law of August 27, 1962 (1o. 121), h:.wevr,

instituted the judicial equality of the two spouses

including common rights, mutual assistance in money, goods,

and lodging, as well as the right of succession, although

inheritance is shared with surviving children.
The remaining inequalities between husband and wife

in Brazilian law are somewhat mitigated by the ways in which

individuals are protected by family solidarity. A husband

can try to dominate his wife, but she can and does call upon

her kin to give her support of various kinds when she needs

it: Sometimes the confrontations between husband and wife

take on the characteristics of confrontations between their

two families. One man who wanted his wife's permission to

sell some common property enlisted his mother to talk to

her. The mother insulted her daughter-in-law's virtue and

family background when the daughter-in-law refused to ac-

quiesce. The daughter-in-law, then, called her father to

come and help her.

Another woman had to go live in another city because

of her husband's decision to live there, but she got so

depressed that she asked her mother to come and take her

back to Belo Horizonte, her home town. One woman who has

three children and is separated from her husband never

receives her support payment from him. Her father there-

fore helps her by providing money and an apartment for her

to live in. Men who have mn3irital troubles sometimes attri-

bute them to interference from in-laws. For example, one

male informant asserted that it wvas his mother-in-law's

fault that his wife decided to get a desquite. Sometimes

even the husband's family sides with the wife. But not all

women are able to handle the marital imbalance of power

effectively by mobilizing kin support. One informant

reported that her aunt would get angry and go on a spending

spree, buying clothes, jewelry, and china, or else would

sleep away from her husband in the bathtub, or go to her

brother's home.

Many more cases were discovered during the course of

the research in which married daughters were financially

assisted by grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and

siblings when husbands had misused marital authority. These

cases involved alienation of property, nonpa-,yment of loans,

use of the vife's credit card and the donation of substan-

tial gifts to persons not approved of by the wife. Appa-

rently, although prohibited by law the formal legal system

operates slowly or not at all in protecting the rights of

married women. As a consequence, women must call upon their

families to attempt the redress of the wrongs.

Married women dealt with more subtle dissatisfaction

with marital relationships by complaining to kin and by

diverting their own attentions to their children. Most

married women observed and interviewed had complaints about

their marital relationships, especially the psychic and

physical absence of the husband, and many said they would

not have married at all if they had known of the burdens

and problems of marriage.

Many middle class women divert attention to their

careers, but end up by being forced to make their lives

excessively complicated, causing them to become more

dependent on their families for help. This dependency

apparently influences their children's behavior. Girls

of such working mcthers ..ere very unlikely to seek employ-

ment help from relatives while boys of working mothers -were

equally likely to seek such help from either relatives or

non-relatives. Both boys and girls of non-working mothers

were more likely to seek employment help from non-relatives

than relatives (see Tables III and IV). Therefore, the

data indicate that while female children of working mothers

are unlikely to seek kin help in job hunting, male children

of working mothers were more likely than any category to

seek kin aid in employment seeking. In all categories,

at least 25% of respondents would seek employment aid from

kin, a quite significant percentage, although not a majority.

It is difficult to interpret specifically why the differences

exist by sex among children of working mothers while not

existing among children of non-working mothers, but it is

interesting that there are strong sex differences. They

may indicate that female children see the difficult life

style pursued by their mothers and choose careers such as

motherhood which require less recruitment help from kin

than do male children.

Thus, the difference in sex roles of Brazilian middle

class spouses is founded in the economic dependencies

decreed in the Civil Code, mitigated by the intervention

Cross-Tabulation for Male Respondents of Influence of
Mother Working on Seeking Employment Aid from Relatives

Mot he r

Employment Aid from Relatives
Row Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage

Employment Aid from Others
Row Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage

Total Respondents
Total Percentage







8 .:







Corrected Chi Square = 0.0864 with 1 Degree of
Significance = 0.8442
Phi = 0.05362


Cross-Tabulation for Female Respondents of Influence of
Mother Working on Seeking Employment Aid from Relatives
Mother Works? Row
Yes N]o Total

Employment Aid from Relatives
Row Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage
Employment Aid from Others
Row Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage
Total Respondents
Total Percentage
Corrected Chi Square = 2.47020 wi
Significance = 0.1160
Phi 0.15144

8 45
15.1 84.9
25.0 42.5
5.8 32.6
24 61
28.2 71.8
75.0 57.5
17.4 44.2
32 106
23.2 76.8
1 Degree of


6 1.6

of each spouse's kin group in support of their members.

The entry of Brazilian middle class %women with teenage

children into the work force is still quite limited (20..2),

according to survey results. In addition, this entry of

women into the work force does not seem to decrease depen-

dence on kin but in certain cases seems to increase it.

Sexuality irn Marriare

The relationship between conjugal sexuality and family

problems is an important theme in Brazilian middle class

culture. Legall- married vomen are expected to have sexual

intercourse 'w:ith their husbands on demand. If a woman

refuses to engage in se:-ual intercourse and then abandons

her home, the husband no longer has to support her. If a

man abandons his home, on the other hand, the separation

must last two years before she can ask for a legal separa-

tion of property, a desquite (Civil Ccde, Article 233).

According to Pereira, the common life of the couple required

by the law, implies sexual intercourse (1972).

According to informants sex is used by wives to attempt

to gain power over their husbands. One woman was reported

to withhold sex and her physical presence whenever her hus-

band refused something to her. Another woman claimed her

husband was insatiable and that tne granting :of sexual favors

gave her the ability to control him. although she became

annoyed at his insistence.

On the other hand, husbands sometimes use the threat

of adultery or promiscuity to 'enforce their ill or their

I -

wives or to avoid the emotional blackmail of the sexual

politics described. above. It is r-portedly corrmon for

married men to engage in sexual intercourse -with women

other than their wives. It is less comr:icn for them to

leave the residential unit because of an outside liaison.

Although this happens, men often return to their wives'

home when they. are seriously or terminally ill. Legally,

the wife can repossess goods, money or any property given

to the "concubine of the husband" (Fereira 1972:117).

Some women respond to their husband's infidelity- with

rage. One woman described the time that her cousin came

to her to tell her that her husband had been seen in the

"bohemian zone" of the city, a euphemism for the area where

prostitutesopenly solicit customers. Her reaction was to

get her revolver and go to get him. She dro-e to the place

where he was said to be, and called a young boy to go in

and get her husband. The boy said to be shaking when

he saw the gun, but he went to get the husband. When he

arrived, she said, gesturing with the revolver, "Respect

me as I respect you. Go home." And he went.

Usually, however, the infidelir.t of husbands is not

viewed as harshly, as that of wives. The "deception" of

a husband by his wife is said to reflect on his masculinity.

One of the strongest insults a woman can get is to be

accused of adultery, which is usually provoked by aner and

responded to in an equally strong manner. When one wife

refused to cooperate with her husband's wish to become

involved in a risky investment, her mother-in-law began to

spread rumors that she was in love with her colleagueL from

work. In anot her case, when a wife refu% d sexual relations

with her husband, he accused her of seeking other men. Her

bitter reply, according to her, was "I have no use for men,

but if I were after one it wouldn't be you."

In general, social sanctions against unfaiti-iful husbands

are weak. But people often will gossip about and avoid such

men. One woman described an encounter with a man who was

known for his seductions.

He is a "zaveao" (hawk).- It was the first
time he ta keT t me. I didn't speak, smiled
only. I lowered m- head. He looks at a person
with his pretty face and that evil visage (c ara
de cafajeste malandro). Yesterday I saw him
at the cluc wren I went with the children.
His '.rife was talking with me and a neighbor of
mine. He came up and I didn't like it.

Another informant described an unfaithful husband as a

cold, calculating person. Suit for desquite on grounds of

a wife's adultery can be counter-sued by the wife on the

grounds of defamation of character.

Sexualit-: is involved with much of the law relating

to marriage. Adultery, for ex:amaple, is defined as volun-

tar'. extramarital sexual intercourse (Civil C.ode Article

315-32.L). Marriage by force, violence or kidnapping is

invalid (Civil Code 133:IX-MII). As mentioned above,

widows who are potentially pregnant at the date of death

of the spouse must wait to remarry for 1C. months (Civil

Code Article 226). Homn:se.xual. marriages are prohibited

Hawkr: a ma. who is looking or easy prey.

(Civil Code, Chapter VI, Article 201-224) and are deemed

never to have existed. Among the grounds for annulment is

the "unknowr.T defloration" of the wife prior' to marriage

(Ibid.). If one spouse induced or entrapped the other

into sexual intercourse with other people, this act is not

legally defined as adultery, nor are acts of extramarital

sexual intercourse which have been forgiven by the innocent

partner, either explicitly or implicitly, when the couple

has intercourse after the alleged act and the innocent

partner had knowledge of the act (Civil Code 133:IX-XII).

In summary, sexual intercourse is implicit in the

definition of marriage in Brazilian law and is explicitly

intertwined with the wife's right of support and other

property arrangements. As a result, sexuality becomes a

bargaining tool between spouses and their respective kin

groups in property disputes, household budgeting, inheri-

tances, support payments for wives, and the alienation of

property in favor of a concubine. These aspects are illus-

trated through legal, formal sanctions as well as informal

ones which function to maintain the economic integrity of

the husband-.:ife dyad.

Psychic Interdepenrence of the Conjugal Pair

The literature on the effects of urbanization on the

family indicates that a high degree of psychic interdepen-

dence of the conjugal pair is often correlated .with a low

degree of extended kin interaction (Pott 1'957). Thus, the

ant ip.'thyy between husband a and wives and the relatively

sharp sex role distinctions are not surprising findings

among a group like the Eelo Horizonte middle class. Con-

plaints of wives about their husbands reflect differences

in values, cultural expectations, remuneration for services

rendered and the double standard of behavior associated with

the difference in sex roles and activities of male and female

spouses. One informant said, "He thought in the old, closed

way untiJ now he's the same as his p parents. My parents

were young and cultured; his were old and simple. (What I

suffered!) He was the same as his parents. People are

what they get at home." Ano:ther described the women of the

household as acting with great solidarity while the men

felt uncolirfortatle in that domain. My observation in one

household showed thai the cooperation of mother, daughters

and spinster aunt was marked in domestic chores while the

father and sons ate and left the house for their store as

quickly as possible, remaining aloof most of te im the ime they

were home.

Some husbands discourage their wives from exercising

their professions. One informant who was active in jour-

nalism before marriage described the elaborate measures

she took to hide her professional activities fron her

husband. She wrote scripts for TV programs, and articles

for newspapers under a pseudonym. But she was never able

to get her professional license because she was required

to have used he r own name as a byline for six months.

Some husbands emphasize the psychic separation of the con-

jugal pair by, keeping information from their wives about

their business activities and financial affairs. One of

the wife's duties is to do almost all of the household

shopping for food, clothing and other necessities. However,

as one woman put it, "She, who has to buy ever-,yhing and

has to bear the rising cost of living, has to rely on the

may who doles out the money in little drops. When the

money is needed, it just doesn't come." Married women who

experience this kind of relationship begin to lose the

desire to make individual decisions. According to an infor-

mant, "Sometimes I think I don't know anything. You'll

have to ask my husband because he's the one who knows how

to think." Another informant, who has a somewhat more

egalitarian relationship with her husband, said, "Once my

husband asked me if I had done something he had asked me

to do. When I told him what I had done, in my own way,

and explained that I thought it best, he said, 'You shouldn't

have thought. You should have just done it.' I told him

simply that I did it the best I could, and he would have

to be more ex:plicit-in the future. I think my response

is unusually independent and frightening to men. They

feel the whole world is changing."

The feelings of distance between husband and wife

shown in these examples, are associated with dependence

on extended family contacts for various types of assistance

and support. One woman described how she and her husband


had moved to a small city in the interior of Minas Gerais.

During this time her father died and she became very dis-

traught. She described her feeling of loss of that depen-

dable reliable relationship in comparison with her relation-

ship with her husband in the following words:

The death of my father changed a lot of things
in my life, but privately I thought one thing
that I don't know whether it would be good to
admit, but it, is the truth: I thought, I lost
my father. I didn't want to expect my husband
to be my father. But at the same time, I had
a feeling inside me. Maybe it was my own fault
to cling to my father so much, since everything
that I had needed my father provided, and it
had become an artificial situation. I, then,
realized a positive effect of his death, that
I had to live the reality of my life using only
what my husband had, for I was certain that
nothing would come from his parents, not a thing.

The psychic interdependence of the conjugal pair is part

of the legal definition of Brazilian marriage. According to

Pereira's interpretation of the Brazilian Civil Code, ideally,

"marriage is the union of two persons of different sex,

resulting in a permanent psycho-physical integration" (1972:36).

But, in reality, marriage roles are very segmented and there-

fore the psychic integration of the individuals with parents,

as in the case described above, is much more intense than

the integration of the marriage relationship.

Use of Surnames by Married Women

One indicator of the relationship between spouses,

according to Radcliffe-Brown, is the degree of incorporation

of the wife into the husband's lineage. Indeed, he empha-

sized that marriage usually involves some modification or

partial rupture of the relations between the bride and her

immediate kin (1950:L9). This modification differs depending

on the degree of incorporation of the bride into the hus-

band's lineage, a process which takes varying amounts of

time, depending on the society. One indicator of incorpora-

tion into the lineage is the use of the lineage name by the


Brazilian middle class families are not lineages, but

kindreds, kin networks or parentelas. However, the practice

of referring to a kin group by a particular surname is found

among this class, and such groups often meet other criteria

for "corporate group" as defined by Radcliffe-BErown, including

ownership of corporate property ajnd, or common residence.

Even in these groups, use of the husband's group's name by the

wife is not universally done, although it is usual. It is

legally a right granted to the wife, which is only taken

away from her if she is deemed to be adulterous in a desquite

suit (Civil Code, Article 1i3, VI). However, because her

relations with her immediate kin continue to be important

to her, other considerations become important to her in

surname selection.

A woman has the right at the time of marriage to sign

the marriage register using any surname or surnames to

which she is entitled by birth or marriage. Some wives,

especially professionals, prefer to use the same name they

have used all of their lives. Many wives add one or more

of their husband's surnames to their oun. The practice of

dropping all of one's birth surnames is almost

Some brides do drop surnames at marriage and base their

selection on the sound of the new names together, on how

close they feel to a particular branch of the family, or on

now prestigious a. particular name is. One informant reported,

"I chose Pinheiro because I think it is a prettier name than

Julho. It combines better with my husband's name. M-.

daughter-in-lawr did the same thing when she pot married.

She didn't think her father's name sounded very good with

Silva so she took her mother's father's name, Castello."

In a few. cases, where one of the wife's family's names is

more prestigious, the husband will adopt that name. One

man reported that, "In cases like my father's, he was a

newcomer and immigrant and my mother was from a respected

local family and was a professor in the school. For this

reason, I think, they didn't use his name at all, but only


MThe pattern of surname use by married women indicates

that these women attach impo_,rtance to maintaining their own

identities as part of their natal kin groups.' In addition,

they may affiliate, by surname use, with branches of their

own kin group other than their father's. These findings

further support the contention that the husband and wife

maintain separate identities through affiliation with

extended kin.

Post-Marital Residence

Although a newly married couple is ideally supposed to

assume neolocal post-marital residence (and the majority do),

many cases of virilocality and uxorilocality were found

among the middle class members studied. One informant

attributed this to a greater desire for higher education

and the resulting lengthening of the economically unproduc-

tive years of middle class children. When students marry,

they usually become dependent on one or both sets of parents.

It is considered more economical and efficient for a voungl

couple to live with parents than for parents to support a

neolocal residence for them. As a result, one informant

claimed that "it is more common now for young people to

have to live after marriage with their parents." The develop-

ment cycle of domestic groups and the various types of

households which are common among middle class Brazilians,

including the married child extended residential unit, are

discussed in greater detail below in Chapter IV.

Annrulment, Divorce, Desqu,-ite, and "Remarriage"

The notion that marriage is permanent is strongly

associated with the power of the Christian church in

medieval Europe. The rise of nation states in Europe

brought about the secularization of marriage and the exis-

tence of divorce, the means by which to terminate marriage.

In Brazil, both religious and civil marriages are considered

permanent. Divorce is only recognized for foreigners whose

foreign divorces have been approved by the Supreme Federal

Tribunal of Brazil (Federal Constitution, Article 175, !o. 1).

Brazilian law only permits monogamous marriage and will

allow remarriage only to approved holders of foreign divorces,

widows and widowers, or persons whose marriages are annulled.

Annulment. Annulment is a process b': which a marriage

is declared to never have existed. It must be granted with-

in the first two years of marriage and can only be granted

on the following grounds: coercion, incompetency, age, kid-

napping, and fraud, through concealing low moral repute,

existence of a hereditary or contagious illness which would

threaten the partner or the children, incurable physical

defect or unknown defloration of the wife. If the grounds

for annulment on the basis of fraud exist, but one or both

partners had good faith (that is, ignorance of the grounds),

the marriage will be deemed putative, the common property

will be divided and the children are legitimate. The part-

ners may not remarry hut are emancipated from the marriage

obligations. No examples of annulment or putative marriage

%.ere found in the parentelas studied.

Lezal Separation. (Desquite) Married persons may

obtain a legal separation called a desquite which has all

the effects of divorce except it does not restore the single

status and therefore remarriage is not legally recognized.

There are two types of desquite, the contested or litigious

separation and the amicable or friendly separation. The

grounds for contested desquite are adultery, attempted

suicide, physical abuse, serious offense to the partner's

integrity including use oi "outrageous" words or gestures,

transmission of a venereal disease, homosexual practices

or other acts deemed to be serious offenses by a judge and

voluntary, prolonged and unjust desertion (Civil Code

Process, Article 142). The grounds for amicable desquite

are mutual consent and no motive has to be given.

The institution .:,f desquite has the effect of ending

the duty of loyalty and sexual intercourse. The community

property of the couple is to be divided equally. The

desauite also determines the custody of the children,

visitation rights of the parent who does not have custody,

provisions to be made for the children's education, and the

support payments due the wife. A judge may temporarily

agree that the wife may waive the duty of the husband to

support her but unless she is found to be guilty of adultery,

she can never be deprived of or renounce the right to

support. The desquite, like putative marriage, does not

entail the right of remarriage, since the persons are

already married (Civil Code, Article 183, VI).

Legally separated Brazilians who divorce and remarry

in jurisdictions of foreign countries do not obtain there-

by legal marriages in Brazilian law.

The reconciliation of a couple which has obtained a

desquite only requires a joint document of mutual consent

to be submitted to a judge (Civil Code, Article 323; Civil

Code Process Article 66). Even if a desquite is in

in effect and custody of children has been awarded to one

parent, the other parent retains and may exercise the

parental power; it cannot be transferred or renounced

(Law L121).

It is ir.teresting to see the contrasts between the

legal definitions of marriage as indisoluble and the

attitudes expressed in the questior.: Li e survey on the

legalization of divorce (see Table V).


Should Divorce Be Legalized?

Absolute Relative
Frequency Frequency

Pro 153 67.1

Con 39 17.1

No Opinion 36 15.S

Total 220 100.0

The vast majority of the respondents expressed the desire

to have divorce legalized.

It is interesting to note that cross-tabulations of

attitudes on the legalization of divorce with religious

affiliation shows that non-practicing Catholics are the

most in favor of divorce and that a tiny minority of

Protestants are the most against it (see Table VI).

Therefore, even though the Catholic Church is strongly

opposed to divorce, most middle class Brazilian Catholics

surveyed seem to favor it. However, it must be kept in


Attitudes on Legalization of Divorce
According to Religious Preference
Yes Io r o Opinion

Practicing Catholic
Row Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage

lHonpracticing Catholic
Row Percentage
SColiumn Percentage
Total Percentage

Practicing Protestant
Ro'.: Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage

IHonpracticing Proct.estant
Row Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage

Other Religions
Row Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage

lo Religion
Row Percentage
Column Percentage
Total Percentage

Total Respondents

Total Percentages

70 25
1. ;
-to f-



77 7



4 3


/-, 2

0 1
0 100.0
0 2.6
0 0.4

9 1



4 2



153 39

67.7 17.3

Raw Chi Square = 17. 2042 with G0 Degrees
Significance = 0.0581
Cramer's V = 0.19856

Number of Missing Obcservations = 3

of Freedom











5 .'.9

5 .O




. *,



__ _

mind that the survey was taken of high school students who

were almost all unmarried and that their opinions would

probably tend to be less conservative of the institution

of marriage than those with vested interests of more time,

experience and commitment spent in married life.

The information gathered in interviews, participant-

observation and life histories included some interesting

information about the alleged causes of desquite, both long

term and immediate attitudes toward desquitados, post-

desquite behavior, the acceptance of remarriage after

desquite and the function of childbearing in such remarriages.

Informants gave a number of explanations as reasons why

members of their families got desquites. In most cases,

one of the partners had arranged other mates or else the

couple had experienced a high degree of incompatibility./

Other reasons given were conflicting career goals, imma-

turity, non-support, financial irresponsibility, emotional

instability, class conflict, kin interference, and bizarre

behavior, including irrational jealousy, violence, alcoholism,

excessive gambling, pool playing and wife-beating. Most

individual cases of'desquite had several of these reasons

offered by informants as explanations for the legal action.

Attitudes expressed about desquite and divorce were ambiva-

lent. Most middle class persons interviewed were wFll

aware of the law on divorce. One informant summarized her

knowledge in this say. "If you marry here, you may not

divorce outside. Already divorce was proposed, but the

majority of the members of Congress have not and would not

vote for divorce even if the people want it. The church is

powerful and does not want anyone to divorce. The middle

class wants divorce to be legalized. iMy niece has talked

about not marrying in Brazil in order to have the right to

divorce later."

In the desquite cases described to me, almost all of

the relatives reacted initially by refusing to accept the

desquite as a proper choice by either spouse. This non-

acceptance by kin was the same in either the husband's or

the wife's kin groups. This finding contrasts with Goode's

results for divorced Americanil-- which described much more

negative reactions to divorces of female kin than to

divorces of male kin (1956:166-167). Brazilian mothers

were described as reacting by "crying" or "suffering"

because of their child's desquite, whether the child was

male or female. Fathers were said to become anEry or to

threaten to disinherit their children, especially when

the break-up was viewed as the fault of their children.

Even in cases where wives were being abused, relatives

were quoted as desiring the marriages to endure. However,

most relatives were described as growing in their acceptance

of desquite as time passed.

Other commicn attitudes about desquites and desquitados

meaning persons who have experienced desquite did include

differences in treatment of the sexes by their kin. Women

who had gone through desquites (called desq-itadas) were